Driving at night causes drowsiness if you have not slept well and especially if you already lack sleep from previous days. When a person drives at twice the legal alcohol limit they are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road crash, than a driver who isn’t under the influence of alcohol. New research released by the Road Safety Authority shows that over 1 in 10 drivers (14%) have admitted to nodding off or falling asleep while driving. The new findings re-enforces international research which suggests that driver fatigue could be a contributory factor in 1 in 5 driver deaths in Ireland. The research, which was conducted by Amarach Research in December 2008 on behalf of the RSA, interviewed over 800 drivers to determine the incidence of long journeys and driving while tired. Of those who have admitted to falling asleep while driving, almost one in four have experienced this twice in the past 12 months.
Car crashes are the number one killers of young men (16 - 25) in Ireland and driving at excess speed is the primary cause of these crashes.
With ever increasing traffic and changing vehicle technology it is no surprise that many of us find the task of driving very stressful. In January 2008 Norfolk County Council launched a scheme in partnership with Department for Transport for drivers who by age, ill health or mobility reasons would benefit from guidance and advice in maintaining a safe driving future for themselves and others.
What is certain is that older people should be able to live the lifestyle of their choice maintaining their independence as long as possible, to deliver this vision agencies must work together to achieve the best outcome in terms of well being of older people. Research demonstrates that reaction times for drivers using a handheld phone are 30 per cent worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving means you are four times more likely to crash. While few people admit to regularly traveling without a seat belt, research shows that 24 per cent of people admit they sometimes don't wear a seat belt when traveling in the back, and 10 per cent in the front.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness or fatigue is the principal cause of up to 100,000 police-reported passenger vehicle crashes every year, killing at least 1,500 people and injuring 71,000. A 2006 NHTSA study showed that 20 percent of crashes and 12 percent of near-crashes were caused by drowsy drivers, said Charlie Klauer, the study's project manager and a research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that one in five teens and adults in their 20s could be rated as "sleepy" by a standard clinical assessment tool that determines whether sleepiness impairs daily activities. Drowsy driving is particularly common among drivers who say they get fewer than six hours of sleep a night or who have sleep disorders, according to a new report by the U.S. An estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep disorders and sleepiness, according to the Institute of Medicine.

New research from University Hospital in Leeds, England, finds that drivers with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to fail driving simulation tests and to report nodding off at the wheel.
For example, the antihistamines dipenhydramine (in Benadryl), clorpheniramine (in Chlor-Trimeton) and brompheniramine (in Dimetane) can cause drowsiness. The so-called second-generation antihistamines fexofenadine (in Allegra), loratadine (in Claritin and Alavert) and cetirizine (in Zyrtec) are non-sedating and do not cause impairment under normal circumstances, Zive said.
Sunlight has a direct impact on the human body and exposure to sun light makes you active and fully awake and indirectly will help the problem of drowsy driving. They're also likely to be more tolerant and confident, which can mean they're safer on the road than other age groups. Driving itself is also more complex and demanding than it used to be, with more traffic on the road and changes to road signage and markings. For those older drivers who do not have specific medical conditions but would still like advice concerning their driving there is a scheme of training and guidance available. If a client decided to ‘retire' from driving or is advised to refrain from driving following an assessment, that person would then be assisted with future mobility decisions and not merely left to their own devices.
If you ring someone on their mobile phone who turns out to be driving when they answer, say you'll call them later and hang up. Drowsy driving slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases aggressiveness. When it comes to drunk driving, once someone has a blood alcohol level over 0.08 percent, he or she is considered legally drunk. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey found that one in seven licensed drivers ages 16-24 admitted to having dozed off at least once while driving in the past year, compared to one in 10 of all licensed drivers who confessed to falling asleep during the same period. The chronic disorder causes repeated pauses in breathing and shallow breath while sleeping. Joel Zive, an independent pharmacist in New York and a spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association, cautions consumers to read their medication labels or talk to their pharmacist for warnings about ingredients that cause drowsiness. Drive at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight in a hotel or motel rather than driving straight through. Avoid allergy and cold or flu medications containing diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, which can contribute to drowsiness. If it is a medication you are taking that is causing insomnia, consult your health care provider. To avoid irregularities while driving, especially due to sleepiness, one must ensure to have a good night sleep before going to work the next day.

But don't blame it on the long-haul truckers: Less than 1 percent of all sleep-related crashes involve truck drivers, who are prohibited by federal regulation from driving more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period.
While most states don't have such laws on the books, the dangers of drowsy driving are getting more attention.
But sleep experts say that while these stay-awake systems may serve as a good backup plan, no one should get behind the wheel tired in the first place. Signs of sleep apnea include loud, irregular snoring or choking and gasping sounds and extreme daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Many drivers still don't realize that legal, over-the-counter treatments for allergies, cold and flu can cause significant sleepiness at the wheel. And don't take prescribed sleep aids such as Ambien until you are finished driving for the day. Other factors such as late night shifts at work, eating at late hours, constant interruptions while you are sleeping and even if you keep on day dreaming not allowing yourself to sleep, can also disrupt your sleeping patterns. If you have a long commuting distance from work to home that can also lead to drowsiness at time of driving home.
It is very common for drivers to micro sleep while driving when you fall asleep for a second and immediately wake up realizing you are on the road. Also, remember never to drink and drive at night as it can cause double trouble for you and get you arrested for drunk driving and finally, avoid drowsy driving at all times as it is very dangerous.
Any driver accumulating 12 penalty points at any time within 3 years will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months.
One factor recently identified in drowsy driving is the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, which can cause its sufferers to experience extreme daytime sleepiness. Just like driving drunk or driving drugged, drowsy driving causes you to make mistakes behind the wheel that can injure or kill you, your passengers or other motorists. If you feel restless and irritated, are having disconnected thoughts, missing traffic lights and exits, having trouble keeping up the head and drifting and changing lanes, you should stop driving immediately.

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