Falling asleep at the wheel of
your car can have dangerous and
often fatal consequences.
According to a report by the
National Commission on Sleep
Disorders, drowsy drivers actu-
ally cause more fatalities per ac-
cident than drunk drivers. In fact,
says the report, nearly 40 million
Americans have chronic sleep
problems which can present a se-
rious threat to themselves and
The U.S. Department of Trans-
portation estimates that at least
200,000 traffic accidents each
year are due to driver fatigue. A
study by the National Trans-
portation Safety Board found that
one-third of all truck accidents
resulting in the death of the dri-
ver were probably caused by sleep
deprivation. Other national stud-
ies have estimated that at least
20 percent of all drivers have fall-
en asleep while driving.
Here are some suggestions
from the AAA Foundation for
Traffic Safety to avoid driving
* Start any trip by getting
enough sleep the night before.
Plan to drive during time periods
when you are normally awake.
Stay overnight rather than dri-
ving straight through.
* Avoid driving during your
body's natural "down time." Take
a mid-afternoon break and find
a place to sleep between midnight
and 6 a.m.
* Talk with your passenger if
you have someone else in the car.
A passenger can also let you
know when you are showing
signs of sleepiness. If your pas-
senger thinks you are getting
sleepy, let someone else drive or
drive to a safe place and get some
* Make sure both people in the
front of the car are awake. A dri-
ver who is resting should go to the
back seat, buckle up and sleep.
* Schedule a break every two
hours or 100 miles. Stop sooner
if you show signs of sleepiness.
During your break, take a nap,
stretch, take a walk and get some
exercise before getting back into
* Four out of 10 Americans
routinely fail to get enough sleep.
If you believe you have a chronic
sleep disorder, consult your fam-
Copies of a brochure, titled
"Wake Up!," are available free at
AAA Michigan full service
branches statewide. El
"60 Minutes" reporter Morley
Safer also is a car buff. He loves
his Ferrari 308GTS and his prac-
tical Peugeot 505 wagon.
of Fai ► ingion Hills
At Grand River and 10 Mile
TEST YOUR SLEEP AND DRIVING
TRUE OR FALSE?
❑ ❑ 1. Coffee will keep me awake.
❑ ❑ 2. I can tell when I'm going to fall asleep.
Li Li 3. 1'1-n a safe driver so it doesn't matter if
❑ ❑ 4. I can't take naps.
Li D 5. I get plenty of sleep.
Li Li 6. Being sleepy makes you misperceive things.
❑ ❑ 7. Young people need less sleep.
Source: Wakc Up! brochure, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 1994
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