This weekend, Oregonians will “spring forward” by setting clocks ahead one hour (officially at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9). Disrupting our normal routines can create hazards on the roads, such as when a sleepy driver gets behind the wheel.
In 2012 in Oregon, seven people died in crashes involving a drowsy driver. From 2008 – 2011 in Oregon, 56 people died in crashes involving drowsy drivers. Though other factors may have been involved, most of these tragic crashes could have been avoided.
Young drivers are especially likely to experience drowsiness because they tend to stay up late, sleep too little and drive at night. The Oregon Department of Transportation and safety advocates offer these tips for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians:
Prevent drowsy driving!
- Get a good night’s sleep. While this varies from individual to individual, sleep experts recommend between 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and 8 1/2-9 1/2 for teens.
- Drive long trips with a companion. Passengers can help look for early warning signs of fatigue or switch drivers when needed. Passengers should stay awake to talk to the driver.
- Schedule regular stops, every 100 miles or every two hours.
- Be aware of one another: bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers should be aware that drowsiness could be in play, especially the first few days after the time change.
Recognize the signs of being drowsy:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
If you are getting drowsy:
- Pull over at the next safe exit or parking area; if you wait, it could be too late.
- Take a 15 to 20-minute nap – studies show this is enough for most people to be completely rested. (More than 20 minutes can make you groggy for at least five minutes after awakening.)
- Consider consuming the equivalent of two cups of coffee. Caffeine is available in various forms (e.g. soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee, tea, chewing gum, tablets) and amounts. Keep in mind, caffeine takes about 30 minutes to enter the blood stream and will not greatly affect those who regularly consume it.
- Some may find it most beneficial to do both: take caffeine and then a short nap.
- Take a brisk walk in the fresh air, in a safe, well-lit location.
More information about being safe behind the wheel is available at www.drowsydriving.org.
CHANGE YOUR CLOCK, TEST YOUR SMOKE ALARM BATTERIESwhen you spring forward one hour to Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9th
Since 2002, Oregon law has required certain types of smoke alarms to come equipped with long life, 10-year batteries and a hush feature. Because of these requirements the historical national slogan
“Change your clock, change your battery,” may not apply to many households who have alarms with 10-year batteries. “It’s time for us to change our message to better reflect Oregon statute,” said Fire Chief Larry Langston.
“We are encouraging residents to test their alarms before changing the battery” says Langston.
Other safety tips:
- Push the test button at least once a month and include your children so they begin to recognize the sound.
- Smoke alarms do not last forever. Replace all smoke alarms 10 years old or older.
- Develop a fire escape plan, designate a family meeting place outside and practice with the entire family.
- Follow manufacturer instructions when testing and maintaining alarms.
"Our goal is to have a working smoke alarm in every home we serve. Ensuring you have working smoke alarms in your home is the single most important step you can take to increase your family's safety from a home fire," adds Langston.
The Bend Fire Department has several FREE resources available to any resident in Bend. These include installation of free smoke alarms & batteries, home safety surveys and emergency planning and fall and fire safety home visits for senior citizens. Visit the Bend Fire Department webpage at www.bendoregon.gov/fire or call 541 322-6309 for more information.