Doubling the Risk
A few weeks ago, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released results from a two-year study that indicate drivers who skip even a few hours of sleep a night double their risk of being involved in a collision. And the more sleep people miss, the higher their risk.
The study focused on injury collisions between 6:00 a.m. and midnight. Researchers studied factors leading to the collisions, including errors committed by drivers, mechanical failures, and environmental conditions. The researchers asked drivers about how many hours they had slept in the 24 hours leading up to the collision, what their regular sleep patterns were, and whether the driver’s sleep pattern had changed recently.
The results were clear: a driver’s chance of being involved in a collision increases significantly when he or she is sleep deprived, and getting more sleep can help reduce our chances of being in a collision.
The AAA says that drivers with 5-6 hours of sleep a night had almost twice the crash risk of those with a full 7-8 hours. Those with only 4-5 hours of sleep had 4.3 times the risk, and those who got less than 4 hours of sleep during the last 24 hour period had 11.5 times the risk of being involved in a collision. Most alarming is that more than half of the drivers involved in these fatigue-related collisions had no warning before they fell asleep at the wheel.
I can’t think of a better time than right before New Year’s Eve to remind everyone that driving can be risky—and not getting enough rest or using alcohol and drugs while driving can be downright dangerous.
So PLEASE do not drive if you are intoxicated or if you haven’t gotten enough rest; the risk just isn’t worth it.
Almost every day, our local officers arrest someone for driving under the influence, and on New Year’s Eve that number increases. During the holidays we want to celebrate with our friends and family, to remember the fantastic year we had and look forward to the promise of next year. But it is during these same holidays when we can let down our guard and drive while impaired, either while we’re intoxicated or too tired.
This is when I worry most about our community and the dangers of driving. That’s why, especially this time of year, our officers work as hard as possible to make our local roads as safe as they can.
Our officers have seen the results of driving under the influence (DUI) and they are passionate about removing intoxicated drivers from the road. Police officers don’t want to be mean or unfair; in fact, it’s just the opposite: they are committed to saving lives—lives we know can be taken when people drive while intoxicated.
Even if no one gets hurt or killed while a driver is impaired, DUI arrests and fines are expensive. A DUI can cost more than $2,700 in court fines and fees, plus additional attorney’s fees, 48 hours in jail, the time to complete an alcohol education program, and loss of your driver’s license.
So please, do the right thing this New Year’s Eve and designate a sober driver to get everyone home safely. Decide at the beginning of the night who will drink and who will drive.
If you are with friends who have not planned well and it appears they should not be driving home, don’t take “no” for an answer. I know this can be tough. It can be incredibly awkward to tell a friend or family member they shouldn’t drive. But please take a stand: do not let anyone drive while intoxicated.
I can assure you our officers will take a stand. We will do everything we can to prevent drunk driving.
Please have a safe and very Happy New Year.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.