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Daylight saving time linked to drowsy driving

By: Ruben Veloz

EL PASO, Texas -- Daylight saving time may give us an extra hour of sunlight, but it also means more drowsy drivers.
    
"Usually, I am not adjusted the night before, I still go to bed late, and then I lose an hour of sleep and I am not ready for the upcoming day, said west El Paso resident Robert Coster.

Travel experts say this time of year many drivers get into crashes because many people don't get enough sleep and fall asleep behind the wheel.  It's a case that terrifies many El Pasoans who drive.

"It's pretty terrible, said Coster.

"It's scary to me because you know that the night before they (people) stayed up late and they probably woke up real early or real late the following day, said El Paso resident Jorge Garcia.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports about 100,000 crashes every year as a result of drowsy driving, causing about 1,500 deaths, and more than $12 billion in losses.  

"That's kind of scary, said West El Paso resident Phillip Gonzales, I really don't want to get in a car crash so it worries me a little bit.

Drowsy driving is known to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. People who drive should recognize these warning signs.

    Difficulty focusing
    Frequent blinking
    Not remembering the last few miles driven
    Head nodding
    Repeated yawning or rubbing eyes
    Drifting out of lane, tailgating or going over rumble strips.

Experts say anyone who experiences any of these warning signs should find a safe spot to pull over and take a break, and if possible, take a 20 minute nap.

"I don't think daylight saving time is necessarily needed anymore, but it's kind of frightening, said Gonzales.

Experts suggest you avoid any medication that could impair your driving, including alcohol.

If you have that coffee or two to help you get up in the morning, wait at least 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter your blood-stream before going behind the wheel.

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