Have you ever driven while tired? Thought a cup of coffee would perk you up? Did you know that 90% of police officers have (at least once) pulled over a driver who appeared to be drunk only to find a sleepy driver – not an intoxicated one – behind the wheel? A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated that 1 out 6 (16.5%) fatal traffic accidents and 1 out of 8 (12.5%) crashes requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers are due to drowsy driving.
But what makes driving drowsy so dangerous? For starters, driver who falls asleep at the wheel is more likely to crash head-on with another vehicle, tree or building without trying to avoid the crash by swerving or braking. In fact, the lack of skid marks on the road after a crash is a strong indicator that the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Trouble is, an exhausted driver may not even realize s/he has fallen asleep. Micro-sleeps can last 4-5 seconds, which doesn’t seem like a long time – but it’s long enough to cross the centerline and crash. You might think you can power through your need to sleep but statistics say otherwise.
If you’re concerned about someone you love driving drowsy, keep reading.
Drowsy driving accidents happen most often overnight but there’s also a small peak during mid to late afternoon – that point in the day when our energy naturally lulls. While anyone who drives tired is at risk, certain groups of people tend to face higher risks:
Getting a good night’s sleep and never getting behind the wheel are the best ways to ensure you’ll never drive drowsy. But just like people can sometimes be a poor judge of whether they should drive after a couple drinks, there are a lot of shades of grey when it comes to drowsy driving. Use these tips to protect yourself from falling into the drowsy driving habit.
For more information on the dangers of driving drowsy, visit these resources online:
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