Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is September 1-9
~ You snooze, you lose, Florida! Motorists should get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel ~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is reminding motorists not to drive drowsy this Labor Day weekend. DHSMV is partnering with the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Trucking Association to recognize September 1-9, 2016 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
“In Florida in 2015, there were 23 fatalities and more than 4,000 crashes from drivers falling asleep at the wheel,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Anything that affects a driver’s physical or mental condition can impair their ability to drive, which is especially dangerous during heavier holiday traffic times. Drivers should make sure they get enough sleep, take breaks and never drive after taking medication that makes them drowsy.”
Throughout the week of September 1-9, the department will remind drivers that if they are having difficulty focusing, yawning repeatedly or drifting into other lanes, it’s time to pull off the road. Drowsy Driving Prevention Week was established in 2010 with the Ronshay Dugans Act, as a time to remind everyone of the risks associated with drowsy driving. In 2008, eight-year old Ronshay Dugans lost her life after a cement truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit the school bus she was riding. Drowsy Driving Prevention Week honors her memory by reminding Florida of the impact drowsy driving can have.
“It is very important to rest before driving to ensure the safety of yourself, your passengers and others on the roadway,” said FHP Director, Colonel Gene S. Spaulding. “Safe driving is in your hands, and with a few simple precautions, you can stay safe and avoid the dangers of drowsy driving.”
Drowsy driving can slow down your thought process and reaction time, affect your judgement and vision, impair your senses and abilities and cause micro-sleeping (“nodding off”) or falling completely asleep.
“As President of the Florida Sheriffs Association, and on behalf of our Florida sheriffs, I fully endorse the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle’s Drowsy Driving campaign,” said Sheriff Jerry L. Demings. “Working collectively, law enforcement can bring attention to this serious public safety issue and reduce the number of traffic crashes and injuries on Florida’s roadways.”
“People may not think driving when they’re tired is dangerous, but driving drowsy kills,” said Coconut Creek Chief Butch Arenal, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “Florida’s police chiefs and police departments welcome any efforts to educate our drivers about staying alert and staying safe.”
DHSMV reminds drivers to be fully engaged when operating a motor vehicle. In addition to educating the public about the effects of drowsy driving, DHSMV reminds commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers that federal and state law requires that all CMV drivers adhere to hours-of-service regulations that put limits on when and how long they may drive.
“Drowsy driving isn’t safe for anyone on the road—whether you drive a commercial vehicle or your own car, it’s important to know the signs of fatigue and pay attention to them,” said Ken Armstrong, President and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association. “No load is worth a life, and safety is the number one priority for commercial drivers. Be alert, stay awake, and rest regularly and anytime you need to.”
As Florida families travel this Labor Day weekend, DHSMV offers additional safety tips for all motorists to prevent drowsy driving:
- Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
- Read the warning information on all medications you take. If it will make you drowsy, do not drive a vehicle.
- On long trips, take a break every two hours.
- If you start feeling tired while driving, pull over in a safe place and take a nap if you can.
- Use the “buddy system” and switch drivers when needed.
- Drink caffeine. Two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
- Always drive sober. Even one drink is too many.
The department also urges motorists to monitor changing weather conditions and adjust their driving conditions as necessary. Here are driving safety tips to help you arrive alive when you absolutely must be out on the road during inclement weather:
- Slow down: Roads are slick during and after a storm. If you have to drive, decrease your speed to avoid hydroplaning.
- Buckle up: Seat belts are your vehicle’s best safety feature and save lives, but they only work if you use them.
- Never drive through standing water: If you cannot see the roadway beneath the water, do not drive through it. The water may be deeper than it appears, the road may be washed away or the water may conceal debris, tree branches or even power lines.
- Be prepared: Check for road closures by visiting the department’s website or calling 511. To report traffic crashes, stranded or disabled motorists or any suspicious incidents on Florida roadways, please dial *FHP (*347).
Visit the DHSMV’s website https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/drowsy-driving/afety/drowsy-driving-is-dangerous-driving/ for more information and use the hashtag #DrowsyDrivingFL throughout the week to add and share important drowsy driving prevention information.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The Department is leading the way to a safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol. To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter @FLHSMV or find us on Facebook. For safe driving tips and techniques, download the official Florida Driver License Handbook.