FLHSMV reminds you to take a break, don’t drive drowsy

~ Driving while fatigued can have deadly consequences. September 1-7 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is leading the Drowsy Driving Prevention Week campaign to remind motorists to get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel, take breaks to remain alert, and never drive drowsy. FLHSMV is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Trucking Association, and AAA – The Auto Club Group to recognize September 1-7, 2020, as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

“Getting adequate rest before getting behind the wheel is the best way to drive safely,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is a sobering reminder that falling asleep at the wheel has deadly consequences and is preventable. We urge all motorists to take responsibility and never drive drowsy.”

Throughout the campaign, FLHSMV 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. In 2019, there were 3,700 drowsy driving crashes in Florida, which resulted in 224 injuries and 12 fatalities.

“Drowsy driving can be just as deadly as driving impaired or texting while driving,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “It is critical to take a break on long trips, pull into a rest area or seek lodging when you feel fatigued, change drivers to ensure you have adequate rest, and allow plenty of time to travel to your destination.”

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. Florida’s Ronshay Dugans Act was established in 2010 and recognizes the first week in September as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in her honor. FLHSMV will be posting video messages from Ronshay’s family about her and the importance of the campaign on social media throughout the week.

FLHSMV is joined by state partners in honoring Ronshay Dugans and spreading the messages of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week:

“No matter how far away your destination, driving drowsy is never worth the risk,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “Always rest up before getting behind the wheel and pull over at a safe location to take a break if you need to rest. Your life and the lives of those around you depend on it.”

“Florida is an internationally known tourist destination showcasing our natural resources, theme parks, and beaches that are all now reopened for our guests and the citizens that we proudly serve. On behalf of our Florida sheriffs, I fully endorse and support the FLHSMVs ‘Drowsy Driving Prevention Initiative,” stated Sheriff Bobby Schultz, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association.

“If you have missed just two hours of sleep, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk by getting behind the wheel,” said Matt Nasworthy, Public Affairs Director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Drowsy driving is impaired driving.”

FLHSMV 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.

“Professional commercial motor vehicle drivers know the risks of drowsy driving, especially in a vehicle that can weigh 80,000 pounds,” said Ken Armstrong, President of Florida Trucking Association. “All motorists should recognize the signs of drowsy driving and take a break when fatigued to ensure everyone on the road gets home safely.”

FLHSMV 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.
  • Use the “buddy system” and switch drivers when needed.
  • Read the warning information on all medications you take. Do not operate a motor vehicle after taking medications which cause drowsiness.

Visit FLHSMV’s website flhsmv.gov/drowsy for more information, including statewide data dashboards and shareable resources to spread the word about drowsy driving prevention. Follow the campaign on social media by using the hashtag #DontDriveDrowsyFL throughout the week and to add or share drowsy driving prevention information.