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(BPT) - One in five fatal accidents in America involves a drowsy driver, according to a recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Unfortunately, driving while fatigued is common in today’s business world. Yet the consequences of driving when you’re tired can be tragic.
“Drowsiness is similar to alcohol in how it compromises driving ability by reducing alertness and attentiveness, delaying reaction times, and hindering decision-making skills,” says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and national spokesperson for the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, which is raising awareness of the dangers of driving while fatigued. “Drowsy driving is deadly, but it can be prevented.”
The Healthy Sleep Project has issued a Drowsy Driving Health Advisory, which urges every driver to take responsibility for staying “Awake at the Wheel.” Drivers should make it a daily priority to get sufficient sleep, refuse to drive when sleep-deprived, recognize the signs of drowsiness, and pull off the road to a safe location when sleepy.
“Rolling down the windows or turning up the music will do little to increase your alertness while driving,” Watson says. “You can drink coffee for a short-term energy boost, but if you catch yourself drifting into other lanes or nodding off, it’s absolutely time to pull over and take a nap.”
Getting seven to nine hours of nightly sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving, according to the Healthy Sleep Project. Drivers should also avoid driving late at night or alone, and they should share the driving with another passenger on long trips.
How do you know if you’re too sleepy to drive? If you experience any of these warning signs, you should pull over or have another passenger take the wheel:
* You keep yawning or are unable to keep your eyes open.
* You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
* You can’t remember driving the last few miles.
* You end up too close to cars in front of you.
* You miss road signs or drive past your turn.
* You drift into the other lane of traffic.
* You drift onto the “rumble strip” or onto the shoulder of the road.
The Healthy Sleep Project also encourages transportation companies to promote public safety by adhering to hours-of-service regulations, scheduling work shifts based on sleep need and circadian timing, implementing an evidence-based fatigue management system, and screening commercial drivers for sleep diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea.
“There is no substitute for healthy sleep – it’s essential to promote personal safety and optimal alertness behind the wheel,” Watson says. “Evaluate your sleep habits, address potential problems with a board-certified sleep specialist, and make sleep a priority to protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers from avoidable, life-threatening accidents caused by drowsiness.”
For more information, visit projecthealthysleep.org.
(BPT) - Preparing your car for harsh winter temperatures before they strike is a great way to ensure your vehicle will be able to handle the year’s coldest months. Both new and old cars need maintenance during this season. Following the car care tips below will help to keep your vehicle running at its peak from now until spring.
* Check the tires. Snow, sleet and slippery roads mean you will rely on your tires during the winter more than any other time of the year – so make sure they are up to the task. Check your tires for correct cold weather air pressure and have them rotated. Inspect the condition of your tire’s tread. This can be achieved by performing a simple test, place a penny on its edge in the tread groove with Abraham Lincoln upside down. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire treads are worn down and you should replace your tires. This same test should be done in several tread grooves across the tire.
* Clean your fuel injector. When the temperature reaches its lowest, you want to know your engine will still operate efficiently. Royal Purple’s Max-Atomizer is the most concentrated fuel injector cleaner on the market. Using it in your vehicle can improve your car’s fuel efficiency, power, throttle response and emissions. It also helps your car start quickly, idle smoothly and operate in winter’s coldest weather.
* Check your fluid levels. Check your brake, coolant, power steering, transmission fluids and windshield washer fluid levels regularly during the winter months. Clear visibility is imperative during the winter months, and windshield fluid can be heavily used. It is a good idea to have a bottle in your trunk to ensure safe driving conditions.
* Clean the air filter. The winter season sees the roadways littered with debris that can get caught in your vehicle’s air filter. The air filter can be easily inspected and cleaned or replaced it if necessary. Doing so will help your car run more efficiently and may even prevent larger problems from occurring in the future.
* Prepare a winter survival kit. Even the best planning can’t prevent a winter accident. If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, a winter survival kit could be invaluable. Your kit should include an ice scraper, de-icing liquid, hand warmers, a granola bar or two, bottled water and cat litter, which can provide traction for your tires if you get stuck. It is also a good idea to store your phone in the glove box or center console when driving. This way, if you do spin out, you’ll be able to find your phone afterward.
* Take your vehicle in for a tune-up. Some winter car maintenance tasks may be outside of your expertise, so it is a good idea to bring your car in for a winter check-up. Your regularly scheduled oil change is the perfect opportunity for your mechanic to do a more detailed inspection of your vehicle. Come prepared with any questions or concerns so your mechanic knows what to look for.
The winter driving season can be nerve-wracking, but if you apply the tips above, you can rest assured that your vehicle is prepared for whatever the season throws at you. To learn more about Royal Purple’s Max-Atomizer, visit RoyalPurple.com.