"I have a good driving record, so I don't need to worry about having an automobile accident." "Accidents happen only to young and reckless drivers." Many think that an automobile accident will never happen to them. Is that the way you feel? When it comes to automobile accidents, are you invulnerable?
STATISTICS suggest that if you live in a developed country, you are quite likely to be injured in a traffic accident at least once during your lifetime. For many, such accidents prove fatal. Worldwide, there are now more than half a million traffic fatalities each year. Perhaps many of those who were killed this past year felt that it would never happen to them. What can you do to reduce your own risk? Prevention is the key. Consider how you can prevent accidents caused by drowsiness and by the effects of aging.
Make sure that your body is "fueled" with a good night's sleep The Drowsy Driver Some experts say that a drowsy driver may be as dangerous as a drunk driver. Reports indicate that drowsiness causes an increasing number of accidents. Fleet Maintenance & Safety Report recently stated that during a single year, 1 out of every 12 motorists in Norway reported falling asleep while driving. According to The Star of Johannesburg, South Africa, driver fatigue causes up to one third of all vehicular collisions in that country. Reports from other lands reveal that fatigue is affecting drivers everywhere. Why are there so many sleepy drivers?
Today's hectic life-style contributes to the problem. Newsweek magazine reported recently that Americans may be "sleeping as much as an hour and a half less per night than [they] did at the turn of the century—and the problem is likely to get worse." Why? The magazine quoted sleep expert Terry Young as saying: "People have regarded sleep as a commodity that they could shortchange. It's been considered a mark of very hard work and upward mobility to get very little sleep."
It is said that the average person needs between six and a half and nine hours of sleep per night. When deprived, people develop a "sleep debt." A report distributed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states: "Even sleeping 30 or 40 minutes less than needed each night during a normal work week can result in a 3- to 4-hour sleep debt by the weekend, enough to significantly increase levels of daytime sleepiness."
At times, you may miss out on a good night's rest. Insomnia, caring for a sick child, or other factors beyond your control can rob you of sleep. The next day you may well find yourself becoming sleepy behind the wheel. What should you do if this happens?
A brief nap may cause a slight delay, but it could save lives Popular remedies such as drinking caffeine, opening the window, chewing gum, or eating something spicy may not keep you awake. None of these so-called remedies address the real problem. What you need is sleep. So why not try taking a brief nap? The New York Times suggested: "The reviving workday nap should not be longer than 30 minutes; any more and the body lapses into a deep sleep, from which it is difficult to awake." Taking a nap might delay your arrival at your destination, but it can extend your life.