How to Avoid Drowsy Driving in Florida

The Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition is raising awareness of the risks of operating a motor vehicle while drowsy — there were 3,700 drowsy driving crashes in Florida in 2019, resulting in 224 injuries and 12 fatalities. Drowsy driving is largely caused by lack of quality sleep and being on the road at night time, and can have serious consequences for drivers and pedestrians. Floridians should take care to adopt safe and responsible driving habits and stay safe on the road.

Effects of drowsy driving

Driving while fatigued has a number of negative effects, including impairing your judgement, vision and senses; slowing down your reaction time and thought processes; and falling asleep behind the wheel. Moreover, Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers who drive while ill or fatigued and crash will be issued a Uniform Commercial Citation. CMV drivers should comply with federal and state regulations regarding sleep to ensure road safety.

Preventing drowsy driving

Always get enough sleep before you drive a vehicle; adults need 7-8 hours a night, while teens need 8-10 hours. Avoid driving if you’ve been awake for 24 hours or more. If you take medication, read the warning label, and don’t drive if drowsiness is a side effect. Take regular breaks on longer drives (at least every two hours). The Florida Department of Transportation offers numerous rest and service stops, welcome centers, and truck comfort stations throughout the state. If you find yourself struggling to focus or feeling sleepy, pull over at a rest stop before continuing to drive.

Staying safe on the road

In addition to avoiding getting behind the wheel while drowsy, there are numerous other essential ways Floridians can stay safe on the road. Most importantly, drivers intending to buy new vehicles should look for safety features. SUVs, in particular, are designed with advanced safety systems. Automatic emergency braking, for example, activates a vehicle’s brakes when a potential collision is detected. In fact, the odds of death are 7.6 times higher for car drivers compared to SUV drivers in road crashes, a University of Buffalo study found. Drivers should also remain vigilant at all times, avoid distractions, and be particularly mindful of pedestrians. Pedestrians should always use sidewalks when available, and use crosswalks and intersections to cross streets; look for cars in all directions before crossing.

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