By Jennifer Mayer
A campaign this week will remind students to take time to sleep before the long drives during the holidays.
“There are always kids dying from falling asleep at the wheel,” said Lorilla Bushman, 46, senior from Spanish Fork majoring in health science. “It just reminds kids that they need to drive with plenty of sleep.”
Bushman is the president of the Health Science Department”s student organization Eta Sigma Gamma.
Since 1997, the Health Science Department and Eta Sigma Gamma have sponsored an awareness campaign called “Doze and Drive” to make students alert to the dangers of driving without enough sleep, Bushman said.
During the holiday season, club members present a five-minute presentation upon request to various classes on campus before Thanksgiving and Christmas, Bushman said.
The campaign provides remedies for fatigue and reminds students of dangers associated with dozing and driving, Bushman said.
“Don”t drive in the middle of the night; pull over and take a nap,” Bushman said.
In 1997, the campaign began after a comprehensive BYU study found that between the years of 1981 and 1996, 200 BYU students were injured from car accidents associated with sleepiness while driving.
Health Science Professor Gordon Lindsay said the risks of dozing and driving are increased at BYU for two reasons: age and irregular sleep patterns.
“Students are sleep deprived,” Lindsay said, “and many students are traveling long distances after finals.”
According to Lindsay, the concern is increased with the large number of out-of-state students who travel home over the holidays.
Lindsay and a few of his colleagues have studied the correlation between student”s sleep habits and driving.
Chewing ice and drinking cola don”t always help wake students up, Lindsay said.
“If you are tired, you are tired,” Lindsay said. “There is no substitute for pulling over and taking a nap. It is false sense of security, because somewhere in the middle of Nevada it happens.”
More than 1500 deaths a year are attributed to drowsiness while driving on U.S. highways, according to the National Highway Transportation Board. Nationally, 50 percent of drowsy driving accidents occur with drivers between the ages of 18 and 25.
Lindsay said the university changed its policy to allow students an extra day to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday in 1980.
“The policy will hopefully help,” Lindsay said. “Just be careful.”