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Don't 'snooze and cruise'

Many drivers have been there.

You’re having trouble keeping your head up, nodding off, veering into another lane or onto the rumble strip and frequent yawning. If you’re lucky, you snap out of it before causing an accident.

But too often, that doesn’t happen. In Nebraska, drowsy driving contributes to as many as 300 fatigued-involved crashes and more than 130 serious injury/fatalities annually, according to the state department of transportation’s highway safety office.

To that end, Nebraska safety advocates are working in seven target counties in an effort to curb drowsy driving. While none of the targeted counties are in Northeast and North Central Nebraska, we hope this effort is so successful to expand it statewide.

The Don’t Snooze and Cruise drowsy driving injury prevention campaign will educate young drivers and older drivers about the need for eight hours of sleep — the best defense against drowsy driving. Research has shown that nearly a third of drivers admitted to driving within the previous 30 days when they were so tired that they had trouble keeping their eyes open.

This lack of sleep slows reaction time, impairs judgment and increases the risk of dozing off while driving.

That’s why Four Corners Health Department — which serves Butler, Polk, Seward and York counties — has joined forces with the state highway safety office to remind all drivers to be well rested before they get behind the wheel.

So what can be done? Here are some tips from Laura McDougall of the Four Corners Health Department:

— According to the health officials, find a safe place to pull off the roadway, get out and walk every 100 miles, or take a break to recharge. Physical activity such as a brisk walk or moving around offers a natural boost of energy.

— On long trips, try not to drive alone. A driver accompanied by a passenger is nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy-driving related crash.

— Drivers who sleep less than five hours per night are six times more likely to be involved in a drowsy-driving-related crash than drivers who get eight or more hours of sleep. Protect yourself and others by being well rested before you get behind the wheel. Always remember to buckle up every person, every time, in every position.

Drowsy driving doesn’t receive as much attention as drunk driving or texting and driving. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous.

So take these words to heart: Don’t snooze and cruise.

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