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Posted: September 30, 2016
Last modified: January 19, 2017

Fall asleep in your bed, not on the road. That’s the message the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) wants to resonate with motorists during Florida’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

Nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived Americans drive a car every day, according to a recently released report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a national highway safety organization. On average, about 328,000 crashes involve drowsy driving.

Those at greatest risk are truck or bus drivers, motorists under the age of 25 (specifically men) and night shift workers, the report showed. Anywhere between 10-20 percent of large truck or bus crashes on U.S. roadways involve a tired driver, the report found. The data was supplied by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

When it comes to keeping drowsiness at bay, nothing compares to a full night’s sleep, said Mark Jenkins, AAA Auto Club South spokesman.

“The best thing you can do is to get a good night’s sleep,” he said. “If you’re going to be behind the wheel and feel yourself starting to get tired, maybe take a break every two to three hours. Stretch your legs out or have a caffeinated beverage.”

FDOT recommends the following:

  • Do not consume alcohol and avoid medications that cause drowsiness.
  • Get a good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) before driving. Good overall sleep habits will go a long way to prevent drowsy driving.
  • Take a companion on long trips. Not only will you have someone to share the driving and help keep you awake, but you’ll be able to save energy by carpooling too.
  • Schedule regular breaks, about every 100 miles or every couple of hours.
  • Check out Florida’s network of rest areas, service plazas, truck comfort stations and welcome centers.

Fatigue will negatively affect the way you drive, said Steven Montiero, Florida Highway Patrol trooper.

“Your reaction times are down,” he said. “You need to make sure you’re fully rested when you’re operating a vehicle.”

Montiero urges drivers to stay alert, and take their safety and the safety of others seriously.

“It’s not only your life at stake,” he said. “But everyone else’s.”