Drowsy Driving Prevention Week reminds motorists to drive alert
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is leading the Drowsy Driving Prevention Week campaign starting this Labor Day weekend. DHSMV reminds motorists to get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel, take breaks to remain alert and never drive drowsy. DHSMV is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Health, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Trucking Association and AAA – The Auto Club Group to recognize September 1-10, 2017 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
“Driving drowsy is just as dangerous as driving under the influence,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Fatigue affects your ability to drive safely and can have deadly consequences. If you are traveling Florida roads, take breaks along the way and switch drivers if you start to feel tired. Ensure you Arrive Alive; never drive drowsy.”
Florida’s Ronshay Dugans Act was established in 2010 and recognizes the first week in September as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. 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.
“Being alert behind the wheel is critical to highway safety” said FHP Director, Colonel Gene S. Spaulding. “It is important for every driver to understand the dangers of drowsy driving. Making the decision to pull into a rest area when fatigued can save lives.”
Throughout the campaign, the department will be urging drivers to safely pull off the road and take a break if they are having difficulty focusing, yawning repeatedly or drifting into other lanes. Fatigue slows thought processes and reaction time, affects judgement and vision, impairs the senses and abilities and can cause micro-sleeping (“nodding off”) or falling completely asleep, making it very dangerous to drive.
“We appreciate our law enforcement partners throughout the year, as they help keep our roadways safe,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew. “Drowsy driving is another form of impaired driving. Focus on the drive. Every trip, every time.”
“When you drive fatigued, you’re putting other drivers at risk, you’re endangering yourself, and you’re threatening the safety and well-being of the officers who are trying to keep our highways and roadways safe,” said Miami Shores Police Chief Kevin Lystad, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “It’s important to understand just how deadly drowsy driving is and how simple it is to prevent: don’t drive when fatigued and take precautions to stay alert on the road.”
“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 Prevention campaign,” said Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, Florida Sheriffs Association President. “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.”
“Drowsy driving poses more of a threat than most realize,” said Amy Stracke, Managing Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and Executive Director of the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation. “Over one-fifth of all fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness and just missing two hours of sleep can quadruple a driver’s crash risk.”
DHSMV urges all drivers to be fully alert when operating a motor vehicle. Commercial motor vehicle drivers are required by federal and state law to 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.”
DHSMV offers additional safety tips for all motorists to prevent drowsy driving and Arrive Alive at their destinations:
• Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep. Get enough rest before you drive.
• On long trips, take a break every 100 miles or two hours. Allow plenty of time to travel to your destination.
• If you start feeling tired while driving, pull over in a safe place and take a nap if you can.
• Drink caffeine. Two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
• Use the “buddy system” and switch drivers when needed.
• Read the warning information on all medications you take. If it will make you drowsy, do not drive a vehicle.
Visit the DHSMV’s website www.flhsmv.gov/drowsydriving for more information and resources to spread the word about drowsy driving prevention. Follow the campaign on social media by using the hashtag #DrowsyDrivingFL throughout the week and to add or share 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.