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On April 29, 1985, in Tuba City, Arizona, a truck driver ran into a school bus due to lack of sleep, killing two children and seriously injuring four. (4)
In November of 1993, a Hagley School minibus driver fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in a crash costing the lives of 12 students and a teacher. (3)
These are just two examples of the MANY severe accidents that result from drowsy driving. The US Department of Transportation estimates that 200,000 traffic accidents per year are due to sleep problems. They also estimate that 20% of US drivers have dozed off at least once while driving. (1) A recent study revealed that the risk of traffic accidents for sleep apnea sufferers is six times that of those without it. (2)
If you are drowsy while driving, find a safe place to pull over and take at least a 30 minute nap. When you get up, walk around in fresh air and get something to drink before starting on the road again. Make sure you feel refreshed before returning to your driving. However, watch out for microsleeps, sudden unpredictable spurts of brain sleep lasting only a few seconds when you are over-tired.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working with NIH's NCSDR to fight drowsy driving. Their report to Congress (5) includes attachments with some of their educational materials for youth audiences. Also, "following a workshop with educators and experts in adolescent sleep on innovative strategies for reaching school-aged youth, NIH's NCSDR is now partnering with NIH's Office of Science Education on development of a supplemental curriculum on sleep for high schools."(6)
Ms. Sommer is a public affairs specialist at NHLBI. This agency distributes these and many other free pamphlets of information on sleep awareness.
The entire report can be viewed on our site. Here are some highlights we recommend:
"Time of occurrence of crashes in drivers of different ages in which the crashes were attributed by the police to the driver being asleep but in which alcohol was not judged to be involved. The four panels show plots for drivers of the following ages: (A) drivers 25 years of age or younger; (B) drivers between 26 and 45 years of age, inclusive; In each panel, the X axis is the time of day and the Y axis is the number of crashes. However, the scale of the Y axis is different for each panel. The data are for the years 1990 to 1992, inclusive. " (7)
(1) Ancoli-Israel, Sonia. All I Want is a Good Night's Sleep. St. Louis, Mosby, 1996. (p. 32)
(2) "The New England Journal of Medicine." (1999; 340:847-851), as cited in: "Sleep Disorder News." Mediconsult.com http://www.mediconsult.com/mc/mcsite.nsf/conditionnav/sleep~medicalnews)
(3) Ball, Nigel. and Hough, Nick. The Sleep Solution: a 21-night Program to Better Sleep. Berkeley, California, Ulysses Press, 1998. p. 7-8
(4)Morgan, David. Sleep Secrets for Shift Workers and People with Off-Beat Schedules. Duluth, Minnesota: Whole Person Associates, 1996. p. 7-8
(5)The NHTSA & NCSDR Program to Combat Drowsy Driving. Report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, [106th Congress] Describing Collaboration Between National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Center on Sleep Disorders Research National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute National Institutes of Health., as announced in a press release from NIH, June 3, 1999. Because this is in a report to Congress, the following attachments are also in the public domain. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/nhlbi/news/hlb-64-99.htm; http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/perform/human/drowsy2/drdrvrep.htm
(6) "NHTSA/NIH combat problem of drowsy driving among fast growing populations of shirt workers and teenagers." [Bethesda] U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute press release, June 3, 1999. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/nhlbi/news/hlb-64-99.htm (as of Aug. 8, 1999)
(7) Text & graphs taken from: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/sleep/drsy_drv.pdf, downloadable at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/sleep/drsy_drv.htm (public domain) For more information on this subject see the URLs above.[an error occurred while processing this directive]