When you're tired, getting behind the wheel can be nearly as dangerous as driving drunk. And yet every day, Americans with drooping eyelids and heavy limbs hit the roadways -- sometimes with deadly consequences.
To shine a spotlight on the dangers of drowsy driving, Toyota, Uber and The Huffington Post are teaming up to provide discounted Uber rides to college students across the country in April.
Starting Friday, HuffPost's co-founder and editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington, will be touring college campuses to educate students on the importance of sleep and promote her newest book, The Sleep Revolution. At each college Huffington visits, students will be eligible for a $15 discount on one Uber ride to or from campus, courtesy of Toyota. The discount will be valid for five days from the date of the book tour stop.
Students will receive an email or push notification from their Uber app with a promo code and a message from Toyota that reads, in part, “Nice work studying late. Now Toyota would like to help you get home safely.”
"Like a growing number of doctors, psychologists and business people, we’ve come to understand that sleep is a critical part of personal health, happiness, success and when it comes to driving, safety," Huffington and Travis Kalanick, CEO and co-founder of Uber, said in a joint press release.
For its part, "Toyota is committed to helping everyone be safe behind the wheel," a company spokesman said.
“Everyone gets tired, and far too often drivers are putting themselves and others at risk by getting behind the wheel without the sleep they need.”
College students have earned a reputation for brushing off sleep — to socialize or to study — and for wearing their sleeplessness as a badge of honor. Indeed, a full 70 percent of them aren't getting enough sleep, according to a study published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep.
In the long run, sleep deprivation can seriously impair the brain and body. In the near term, sleep loss affects the brain in much the same way alcohol does, research has found. Staying awake for 19 hours can have the same effect as knocking back a couple of drinks, and pulling an all-nighter is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent, which is legally intoxicated.
It should come as little surprise, then, that car crashes related to drowsy driving result in 8,000 deaths every year -- almost as many deaths as are caused by drunk driving. And yet, despite the dangers, over 60 percent of American adults say they've driven while drowsy within the past year.
Those sleepy drivers pose a threat to everyone on the roads, said to Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Not everyone drinks and drives or texts while driving. But everyone gets tired, and far too often drivers are putting themselves and others at risk by getting behind the wheel without the sleep they need,” Rosekind said in a speech in Chicago in 2015.
Toyota, Uber and HuffPost hope that by taking advantage of discounted Uber rides, college students will wake up to the dangers of drowsy driving and the importance of a good night's sleep.