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LA Auto Club Says Motorists Can Avoid Drowsy Driving During Thanksgiving Holiday

LOS ANGELES--Nov. 2, 20043, 2004--The Automobile Club of Southern California is warning motorists that falling asleep at the wheel can bring a tragic end to holiday travel plans. In a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's survey released today, 89 percent of law enforcement officers surveyed nationwide said drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.

In addition, an earlier AAA Foundation-sponsored survey of drivers who had recently been involved in drowsy driving crashes found that one-fourth of them reported sleeping an average of less than six hours per night.

"Driving when you are sleep-deprived is a recipe for disaster," said Patrice Frazier, managing director of traffic safety programs. "Drivers should get at least six hours of sleep before hitting the road, because those who are even slightly tired may not be able to react to road danger. Use extra caution if you must drive between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Millions of people in the western United States are expected to travel by vehicle during Thanksgiving. With many drivers starting their Thanksgiving trip this week, staying alert is important."

Drivers need to watch for these danger signs:

-- Eyes closing by themselves

-- Difficulty with paying attention

-- Frequent yawning

-- Swerving in lane

If drivers experience any of these danger signs, they could fall asleep at any time. The Auto Club recommends three basic solutions-- sleep, exercise and caffeine:

-- Take a nap--even 20 minutes will help.

-- Exercise after waking up helps increase alertness. Try running or walking while waving arms.

-- Consume caffeine--it can provide an extra boost.

The Auto Club offers the following additional recommendations to help motorists avoid drowsy driving:

-- Packing should be completed early enough before the trip to allow time for a normal night's sleep.

-- Try to set a limit of 300-400 miles of driving per day to limit fatigue.

-- Avoid drugs that may cause drowsiness.

-- When driving, keep eyes moving--from the left side of the road to the right. Focus on an object that is near, then on an object that is far.

-- Stay alert. Decide ahead of time how to react to possible dangers or driving situations.

-- Stop at regular intervals. Get out of the car every two hours or so. Run in place, do jumping jacks, breathe deeply.

More than 2,200 law enforcement officers from the United States and Canada completed the AAA Foundation's online survey during the first three months of 2004. The full report is available at

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by the organization's emergency road service, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs and legislative advocacy. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at