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By:    On: 2013-01-19

You would never transport your Scouts after drinking alcohol, but you may be putting them at just as much risk. According to a researcher at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit, losing four hours of sleep is the same as drinking a six-pack of beer. (Learn more at

I don’t know about you, but I can remember many troop outings when I’ve gotten at least one poor night’s sleep because of heat, bugs, freezing temperatures, or rocks under my sleeping bag. And I can remember propping up my eyelids with toothpicks on more than one occasion—not literally, but you get the idea.

There’s no magic cure to drowsy driving, but there are some things you can do to keep your Scouts (and yourself) safe:

First, remember that the Guide to Safe Scouting restricts driving to 10 hours in a 24-hour period. That driving should be broken up by frequent rest, food, and recreation stops, and it should be shortened if there’s only one driver per vehicle.

Second, on trips of long duration or long distance, make sure you have two drivers per vehicle. Don’t ask someone who’s been sleeping on the ground for a week to drive all day on the way home.

Third, consider building in an extra night on the way home from especially strenuous outings. If you live a long day’s drive from Philmont, for example, stretch the trip home into a day and a half with an overnight and a big steak dinner along the way.

Finally, take care of your drivers. Be sure they have the chance to get plenty of rest during outings, even if they need to spend the last night of a trip in a motel.


Republished with permission of Mark Ray at

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