Drowsy driving a hazard to campus community

Julieta Rodrigo // Staff Writer

The start of a new semester can be rejuvenating, inspiring and filled with new opportunities for students. However, it can also be a dangerous time, particularly for those students who drive to campus.

Increased congestion on college campuses at the start of every semester correlates with an increase in car accidents, according to statistics released by the Brain Injury Society.

Many of these accidents are caused by drivers who are sleep deprived. Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, impairs judgment and vision, decreases awareness and vigilance, and intensifies moodiness and aggressive behaviors.

Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drowsy driving was the cause of 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. College students are particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation while school is in session, with almost three-quarters reporting that they sleep less than eight hours every night.

This statistic is troubling as the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping more than eight hours, while drivers sleeping less than five hours a night increased their risk four to five times.

For students, it is imperative that we do not allow assignments, extracurricular responsibilities, and other tasks to take precedence over sleep.

Law student Aby Rodriguez told Student Media that she has driven drowsy before and it was scary.

“I had to keep the A/C on really cold and sing along to the radio so I wouldn’t fall asleep,” she said.

Rodriguez also encouraged students to take naps when they can and finish their assignments before 9 p.m.

On Jan. 5, FIU’s Healthy Living Program Facebook page shared an article titled “The Single Best Way to Ensure a Better Night’s Sleep, Starting Tonight.”

The main takeaway was the importance of “setting a bedtime and sticking to it.”

Using smartphone apps to track how much sleep you’re getting is a way to ensure you are meeting your body’s sleep needs every night.

While some nights may be more difficult than others because of personal obligations or homework, Rodriguez said it’s best not to allow those things to affect your sleep.

“Worrying about school while you try to get sleep will affect you, and you won’t wake up relaxed.”

With these tips, students can work on reversing the statistics on drowsy driving, saving lives and ensuring a more prosperous and safe future for the community around them.

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