Stay Alert: Understanding the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Most people know the dangers of drinking and driving.  However, drowsy driving is not as well-known and can cause equally dangerous levels of impairment.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 846 fatalities recorded that were drowsy-driving related in 2014. NHTSA estimates drowsiness is at least a contributing factor in more than 100,000 crashes across the country each year. The reported drowsy-driving crashes and fatalities have remained mostly consistent across the past decade.

Finding accurate numbers of crashes caused by drowsy driving are not yet possible.  Crash investigators can look for certain signs that drowsiness likely contributed to driver error, but these clues are not always recognizable or definite.  It is likely the numbers of drowsy driving accidents far exceed the reported numbers.

Much like driving under the influence, driving drowsy can cause the driver to lose focus, react slower, and impair judgment and focus.  If you are tired enough, you could end up falling asleep and not even be aware of it. Falling asleep behind the wheel for even a split second can have dangerous consequences for you and anyone else on the road.

Avoiding Drowsy Driving

  • The best way to avoid drowsy driving is to get enough sleep on a daily basis.
  • Be aware of any medications that you are taking. Many medications have drowsiness as a side effect
  • For long trips, take breaks and share driving with a well-rested passenger if possible.
  • Don’t rely on using “tricks” to stay alert such as turning up the radio or consuming caffeine. These are not cures for drowsiness and may give you a false sense of security.
  • Stay vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as heavy or tired eyes, frequent yawing, crossing over roadway lines or hitting a rumble strip.
    • If you start to experience signs of drowsiness pull over to a hotel or rest area until you are rested.
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