Title of newest Star Wars film gives ADOT an excuse to tout dangers of drowsy driving
By Doug Pacey
ADOT Office of Public Information
Unless you live in a galaxy far, far away, you’re probably aware that movies theaters on Earth will soon begin showing “Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens.” Count the Arizona Department of Transportation among those thrilled that the Force is no longer slumbering, as we can capitalize on a pop culture phenomenon to slip in a message about the dangers of drowsy driving.
Seriously, do you think Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon could have made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs if he’d been asleep at the controls?
Not on Yoda’s life.
All right, everything you just read might be as ridiculous as Jar Jar Binks, but drowsy driving is no joke. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
, driver fatigue was the direct cause of about 72,000 crashes, including 800 fatalities and 44,000 injuries, in 2013. However, it’s known that drowsy driving is under-reported and could contribute to as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year
, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To us, that couldn’t be more startling than if you (SPOILER ALERT!) learned your arch-enemy is also your father.
Drowsy driving can affect anyone – droids excluded – but is more common among teens, college students and young adults, shift workers, commercial drivers and drivers with untreated sleep disorders. To combat driver fatigue, make sleep a priority. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night, while teens and young adults require a least eight hours. If you skimp on sleep, “sleep debt” will accumulate and you don’t want to be behind the wheel – or on a mission to destroy the Death Star – when it’s time to pay up.
Warning signs of drowsy driving, according to the National Sleep Foundation
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing eyes.
- Daydreaming, wandering or disconnecting thoughts.
- Missing exits or traffic signs.
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, hitting the rumble strip.
If you notice those symptoms, try doing this:
- Change drivers.
- Consume caffeine to increase alertness, but know that it can take about 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream.
- Pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap and recharge or find a place to sleep for the night.
Remember, even Jedi require a good night’s rest. Do it you must. There is no try.