Put the Brakes on Drowsy Driving


The drive home after a long and tiring shift can be potentially dangerous for healthcare workers

You've worked another long shift; your feet are throbbing, your back is aching and all you want to do is take a nap. But, you still need to get to the store and prepare meals for the family. Sound familiar? After an exhausting 10 or 12 hour shift, driving home could be the most dangerous part of your day.

First, the facts: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that sleepy drivers cause more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.  Shift workers are especially at risk. Warning signs include: difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, yawning repeatedly and rubbing the eyes, memory lapses or daydreaming and drifting across lanes or off the road. Couldn't happen to you? Approximately 11 million drivers admit they have had a crash or near crash because they dozed off or were too tired to drive, and in a study of hospital staff nurses, almost 600 out of 900 surveyed reported at least one episode of drowsy driving. Thirty nurses admitted they experienced fatigued driving following every shift they worked. For nurses who worked only night shifts, the percentage rose to almost 80 percent. With daylight savings ending and the days getting darker earlier, already disjointed sleep patterns can be even more affected. A sleep deprived mind is also not good for patient care and workplace harmony.

Now the good news; there are things we can do. In an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes, the National Sleep Foundation has declared November 2-9, 2014 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®. They recommend that everyone attempt to make sleep a priority, with adults getting between seven and nine uninterrupted hours, and to implement good sleep hygiene for the bedroom: establishing a regular, relaxing routine of stretching or yoga (devoid of the TV or radio), avoiding vigorous exercise before bedtime, eliminating late day and evening caffeine or alcohol and staying away from heavy meals for dinner.

 People experiencing drowsy driving should immediately pull over and, if possible, take a quick nap or call for a ride. A cab is much cheaper than paying for a car crash or hospital bill. Other recommendations include carpooling or ride sharing with a coworker and consuming caffeine 30 minutes before you head for home.

And, wouldn't it be nice to get away for some rest and relaxation? Nurses can win the ultimate spa weekend for themselves and three coworkers at the famous Hotel Hershey® and Spa with California Casualty's give a Nurse A Break contest. All the information and the simple entry form can be found at http://GiveaNurseaBreak.com/.

Remember, getting a good night's sleep and finding more time to relax can make you a better caregiver and better person to the ones you love.

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing the ONA Auto and Home Insurance Program since 2011. Contact an insurance advisor for a no-hassle quote or policy comparison at 1.800.800.9410 or www.calcas.com/ONA.

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