It’s a depressing wake up call for anyone skimping on a good nights sleep, but missing just two hours of sleep before driving can quadruple your likelihood of having an accident and can have the same effect on your motor and concentration skills as if driving under the influence of alcohol.
The nationally recommended number of hours sleeping is 7 to 8 hours per night according to the RSA (although international standards recommend between 8.5 and 9 hours). A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety – non-profit charitable organisation based in Washington, DC that focuses on saving lives on the road through research and education – reveals the likelihood of crashing if you’re missing out on sleep.
The organisation says that getting 6-7 hours of sleep increases your crash risk by 1.3 times while sleeping less than 4 hours before driving increases the chance of an accident by 11.5 times.
What’s even more frightening is the fact that driver fatigue is a massively common thing here; contributing to every 1 in 5 deaths on Irish roads.
Aa s a road newbie I can’t imagine dropping my concentration even for a second, but a survey carried out by the RSA concluded that 1 in 10 Irish people have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. There have been more than 175 deaths on Irish roads this year already.
If you do feel tired behind the wheel, the RSA recommends the following:
- Stop, park in a safe place and take a nap for 15 minutes (set your mobile phone alarm). This is the most important tactic.
- To really make the most of the break, take a caffeine drink before the nap (150mg of caffeine e.g. 2 cups of coffee). After the nap, the caffeine should have started to take effect.
- Then get some fresh air and stretch your legs for a few minutes.
- By following all of the above advice you should be able to drive for another hour or so.
We know that managing a balanced lifestyle while juggling the family and life can be a weighted task, but these stats highlight the importance of sacrificing that extra hour in the office, gym, or bar for extra sleep time; particularly at this time of the year.