Drowsy Driving Poses a Serious Threat
We all understand the dangers associated with driving while impaired, with speeding or otherwise driving aggressively, and with driving while distracted, but few of us think much about drowsy driving one way or another. After all, it is only natural to feel drowsy from time to time. The fact is, however, that drowsy driving can be deadly driving and deserves more careful attention.
Drowsy Driving: The Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shares the following dire statistics related to drowsy driving:
In 2017, there were nearly 800 traffic deaths related to drowsy driving.
In 2017, drowsy driving played a role in 91,000 traffic accidents.
Between 2013 and 2017, there were more than 4,000 traffic fatalities related to drowsy driving.
The danger associated with drowsy driving is very real. In traffic safety, public health, and sleep science communities, there is widespread agreement that the statistics listed are underestimates due to the inherent difficulty of pinpointing drowsiness as an official factor in any given traffic accident.
Attitudes Related to Drowsy Driving
NHTSA reports that attitudes related to drowsy driving need to change if we are going to affect change and reduce the number of dangerous accidents associated with this negligent driving practice. The negative consequences of exhaustion include impaired cognition, inferior performance, negative health consequences, accidents on the job, and accidents behind the wheel. As technology continues to make inroads into streamlining our lives, most of us are busier than we have ever been, and this translates to increased fatigue that is not addressed in the same way that other driving hazards are.
Drowsy Driving Accidents
NHTSA relays that, while accidents caused by drowsy drivers can happen at any time, they are most common in the late afternoon and between the hours of midnight and 6 AM – when the internal clock that regulates sleep tends to slow down. Further, drowsy driving accidents are even more common on rural highways and roads.
In order for motorists to avoid the dangers of drowsy driving, they are responsible for taking the necessary precautions, including all of the following:
Getting enough sleep on a daily basis (about seven to eight hours a night)
Preparing for long trips by getting plenty of sleep the night before
Avoiding alcohol before getting behind the wheel (Alcohol can exacerbate the effects of drowsiness)
Ensuring that any medication one takes does not list drowsiness as a side effect
NHTSA is committed to increasing public awareness and improving public education related to this undeniably dangerous form of driver negligence.