Each year, 6 percent of crashes are caused by drowsy driving. That makes up approximately 328,000 crashes, including 109,000 crashes with injuries and 6,400 fatalities.
Drowsy driving doesn’t just cause thousands of deaths, it’s responsible for billions in societal costs annually. That includes the cost of emergency services, insurance administration, medical and legal services, and lost productivity. This figure does not include property damage.
Are You at Risk of Drowsy Driving?
One in 25 drivers report falling asleep while driving within the past month, according to the CDC. Drowsy driving can affect anyone, but certain drivers are more likely to drive when they’re too sleepy to do so safely. These include:
Commercial drivers, such as truck drivers, bus drivers, or tow truck drivers
Drivers with untreated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or insomnia
Drivers who take medications that may cause drowsiness
Shift workers who work nights shifts or long shifts
Drivers who don’t get enough sleep
Know the Signs of Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving happens most often at night between the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m., but you can drive drowsy at any time of day. It’s important to know the signs of drowsy driving so that you can take action before you’re too sleepy to drive safely.
According to the CDC, warning signs of drowsy driving include:
Drifting from your lane or hitting a rumble strip
Missing your exit
Nodding your head, yawning, or blinking frequently
Trouble remembering the last stretch of road
If you suspect you’re too sleepy to drive, it’s important that you pull over soon. Even if you don’t fall asleep at the wheel, driving drowsy impairs your ability to drive safely, making you less able to pay attention to the road, slowing your reaction time, and affecting your ability to make good decisions.
When you pull over, you can change drivers, take a short nap, or get out and stretch your legs or grab a coffee. Don’t try to push through by turning up the radio or opening a window, as these are not effective ways to stay alert.
What You Can do to Prevent Drowsy Driving
The best way to stop drowsy driving is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Adequate rest is key before driving, so you can be well prepared to drive safe and alert.
Give yourself enough time to sleep. Each night, make sure you have enough time to sleep well. Schedule at least eight hours for rest, including seven to seven and a half hours of sleep, plus time to fall asleep and wake up. Make sleep a priority over other activities.
Seek treatment for sleep disorders. If you experience difficulty with sleep on a regular basis, you may suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Sleep disorders can make it impossible to get enough sleep on a regular basis, which is dangerous for driving. Talk to your doctor about your difficulties with sleep and seek treatment so you can get a good night’s rest.
Be aware of medication side effects. Always read the warning labels on medications to check for drowsiness as a side effect. Check medications you take regularly as well as new medications, or ones you only plan to take for a short time. Talk to your doctor about what time you should take your medication to avoid drowsiness while you’re driving.
Make your bedroom comfortable for sleeping. It’s important to make your bedroom a healthy sleep environment where you can relax and enjoy good quality sleep. Your bedroom should be dark and free of bright lights that can make you feel alert. It should be a cool temperature so you’re not too hot to sleep. Make sure it’s quiet, so you won’t be woken up by loud noises, using a white noise machine if needed. Select a mattress that appropriately meets your needs, offering good support so you’re able to sleep comfortably.
Were You a Victim of an Accident Caused by Drowsy Driving? Call 1-855-887-8700 TODAY!
If you or a family member were a victim of an accident caused by a drowsy driver, do not hesitate to speak to one of our experienced auto accident attorneys at Makkabi Law Group, APC. We can get you connected with an auto accident attorney who will protect your rights, help replace any lost or damaged property as a result of your accident and ensure you receive the maximum compensation. Call 1-855-887-8700 TODAY and take the first step towards achieving medical treatment and compensation.
About the Author:
Ben DiMaggio is a researcher for the sleep science and health organization Tuck.com. Ben specializes in investigating how sleep, and sleep deprivation, affect public health and safety. Ben lives in Portland, Oregon. His worst sleep habit is checking his email right before bed.