BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - As you prepare to travel this weekend, be aware that drowsy drivers are becoming more of a problem on the nation's highway, including in Alabama.
AAA conducted a study over the last couple of years. This included putting cameras into some 700 vehicles. The driver's safety advocacy group was surprised to see just how bad the drowsy driver problem really is.
"National estimates have drowsy driving related crashes at one or two percent. We found in this study it was about nine and half percent," said Clay Ingram with AAA of Alabama.
A new study from sleepjunkie.org reported Texas leads the nation with 159 traffic fatalities related to drivers who dozed off. Alabama comes in second with 43 traffic deaths, which is ahead of California with 38 deaths.
"It causes you to lose focus. Drift from lane to lane. Affecting your decision making ability and reflexes. So it's dangerous," Ingram said.
Some of the symptoms include having trouble keeping your eyes focused, the inability to keep your head up, yawning frequently and rubbing your eyes.
"It's up to the driver. Everybody is a little bit different. You can't rely on your body to give you sign that you are about to go to sleep," Ingram said.
Some tips include:
- Getting at least six hours sleep
- Scheduling a break every two hours or 100 miles
- Drive at times normally awake, don't drive straight through the night.
- It's OK if you turn to a caffeinated drink, but remember it takes about 30 minutes to take effect.
- Don't travel alone.