Drowsy driving is a major problem in the U.S. and around the world.
In fact, according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving caused an incredible 50,000 injuries in the United States in 2017.
And it’s estimated that there are around 6,000 fatal car crashes caused by drowsy driving every year.
Let’s take a closer look at what drowsy driving is and why it’s so dangerous. You can then take precautions to prevent driving while feeling sleepy.
What is drowsy driving?
Drowsy driving refers to driving while you are sleepy or feeling fatigued.
It can happen for multiple reasons, including sleep disorders, drinking alcohol, and taking medication.
Ultimately, anything that can cause you to feel sleepy is considered to be a factor in drowsy driving when you’re behind the wheel of a car. It could be as simple as being overworked or not getting enough sleep at night.
Six Different Groups Who Are at Particular Risk of Drowsy Driving
While anyone can experience fatigue or drowsy driving, some groups of people are at a higher risk of driving while drowsy and ending up in an accident as a result.
Six of the most at-risk groups of drivers are:
- Inexperienced or young drivers because they’re more likely to drive during late hours and are generally less experienced behind the wheel.
- Shift workers and people who work extended hours because they work long hours and are exhausted by the time they finish their shifts.
- Commercial drivers, such as truck drivers and couriers, because they often work long hours and have strict deadlines to meet.
- Business travelers because they are often jet-lagged and travel through different time zones
- Drivers who take certain medications because many over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause mild to extreme drowsiness.
- People with medical sleep conditions because conditions like insomnia and narcolepsy can leave driver’s feeling tired and depleted throughout the day.
Why is drowsy driving so dangerous?
Feeling drowsy or falling asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle is clearly dangerous. It affects your ability to drive safely for various reasons.
For instance, when you’re drowsy, you will pay less attention to the road, your reaction times will be slower, and you will be less alert to make good decisions.
And if your eyes close for even just a couple of seconds, you could end up being involved in a serious accident as you might not be able to do things like brake or steer suddenly.
Avoiding and Preventing Drowsy Driving
To avoid being involved in an auto accident due to drowsy driving, you should learn the warning signs and take appropriate action.
For instance, if you find yourself yawning or blinking frequently, forgetting the past few miles you have driven, or drifting from one lane to another, it’s a clear sign that you are driving while drowsy and putting yourself at risk.
Therefore, if you notice any of those warning signs, it’s important that you pull over and rest before you begin driving again.
You can also prevent getting drowsy behind the wheel in the first place by always getting enough sleep, avoiding drinking alcohol or taking medications before you drive, and simply never driving when you feel sleepy.
If you think that is unavoidable, perhaps because you work long hours, there will always be other options, such as getting public transport or pulling over to get some sleep before you continue with your journey. If you don’t take active measures, you’re more likely to end up in a road accident.
Now, take a look at these other ways to reduce your risk of a car accident.