SOURCE: CIRCADIAN

May 26, 2005 09:00 ET

Drunk Drivers Won't Be the Only Menace on the Road This Memorial Day Weekend

LEXINGTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 26, 2005 -- Experts are predicting that this Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, will be one of the heaviest travel weekends of the year. Police will be out in full force, setting up roadblocks in an attempt to nab those drivers who've had one too many at a backyard barbeque. But a striking number of motorists will be significantly impaired despite having had nothing to drink -- instead, they'll be impaired by sleeplessness.

Whether they're long-haul vacationers or workers on the way home from the nightshift, excessive drowsiness impairs a driver's alertness and ability to a level similar to that of alcohol consumption. In fact, data from CIRCADIAN, a Lexington, MA-based research and consulting firm, confirm a similarity in performance ability between someone who has been awake for 22 consecutive hours and someone with a blood alcohol count of 0.08 -- legally drunk in all 50 states.

More dangerous still is that, according to the National Sleep Foundation, one in 10 drivers report falling asleep behind the wheel at least twice a month, stripping them of all defenses, and significantly increasing the chances and severity of injury to themselves and other drivers.

"The news reports tell us not to drink and drive and to beware of drunk drivers, but that's telling only half the story," said Betsy Connolly, president of CIRCADIAN.

To prevent potentially deadly driver fatigue, CIRCADIAN recommends the following:

--  On long trips, stop every two hours to stretch and refresh, or to
    switch drivers.
--  Use caffeine to boost alertness, but don't rely on it.
--  If you feel you cannot continue to drive safely, pull over for a 15-
    to 20-minute nap.
    
About CIRCADIAN: Circadian is the leading international research and consulting firm assisting companies with extended hours operations to improve profits by increasing productivity and reducing the increased costs, risks, and liabilities of human factors. For more information, visit www.circadian.com.

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