Drowsy Driving Compares to Drunk Driving - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Drowsy Driving Compares to Drunk Driving

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Driving long distances can be a real challenge, especially if you are chronically tired.

Triple-A says more than one in four drivers have a hard time keeping their eyes open on the road, and the effects of driving without the right amount of sleep can be compared to stopping at the bar for a few drinks and getting behind the wheel.

"It affects such things as your reaction time, impacts your vision and it causes lapses in judgement-all things that alcohol does also," says AAA spokesman Gene LaDoucer.

Think of your body like you would an electronic device; without a charge it will die, and as much as you might want to fight sleep, it's the one time out of the day that your body gets to re-boot. 

So, why are there so many sleepy drivers on the roads?

"The major thing is that people aren't making sleep a priority, and understanding that it is important to sleep well. Not only to work, but to drive," says Karla Smith, St. Alexius Sleep Center.

Adults should be getting seven and a half to eight hours of sleep per night, and those on shift work, especially, need to be especially mindful of their sleep schedules. It's also reccommended that drivers don't eat a heavy meal before driving. A full stomach is more likely to make you more tired.

"They're up and then they're up for twelve hours working and then they have to drive home the next day. So, that's a big concern," says Smith.

Bonnie Reinke was one of those shift workers who experienced the effects.

"You're sort of sleepy. You're just not really cognitively there. And one time it happened to me and I had a little fender bender. Car stopped in front of me and I wasn't quick enough and I ran into the back of her," says Reinke.

And if you're driving long distances, you need to be extra cautious.

Sleep experts say it's a good idea to pull over every 100 miles, not only to keep the blood moving in your body, but also to keep your energy levels up.

And whether you're driving nine or ninety miles, get the right amount of rest, because getting behind the wheel when you're tired not only puts you at risk, but other drivers on the road as well.

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