Drowsy driving has been linked to crashes across the country, but the statistics aren't so bad. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly one in four crashes involve driver drowsiness. In addition, nearly 1.4 percent of crashes involving injuries and fatalities involved drowsy drivers. Despite this high rate, drowsy driving doesn't get nearly as much attention as drunk driving. Experts are calling for increased attention to this growing problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving accounts for over seven hundred and fifty deaths each year. This number is higher than previously thought and is estimated to cost the societal economy between $109 billion and $12 billion annually. Moreover, drowsy driving crashes are more likely to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. and in the late afternoon and early morning hours. In addition, many of these crashes involve a single vehicle and high speeds, often on rural roads.
The cause of drowsy driving accidents is unknown, but it's common for drivers to fall asleep at the wheel. However, research has shown that a large proportion of Americans have experienced fatigue, including drivers. In addition, lack of sleep impairs reaction time, judgment, situational awareness, and risk taking. In fact, there are over eighty million sleep-deprived adults in the United States alone. Regardless of the cause, the drowsy driving statistics are disturbing and may represent an increasing public safety issue.
While younger drivers are more likely to experience drowsy driving episodes, older drivers are also at a higher risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. The same holds true for teenagers, young men, and older adults. Drowsy driving is common throughout the United States, but the statistics are hard to quantify. Fortunately, there are ways to increase the number of accidents and prevent their fatalities. The key is getting people to make better decisions while driving.
Currently, almost one-half of all drivers have fallen asleep while driving, and nearly one-third have done it within the last year. The CDC also notes that more drowsy drivers are those who have been sleeping less than six hours the night before. More than half of drowsy drivers also report driving when they were sleeping. In addition, drivers who reported falling asleep while driving within the past year were more likely to be on a high-speed highway.
People who travel frequently for business purposes are especially susceptible to drowsy driving. Traveling frequently can lead to jet lag and time zone changes, making it difficult to maintain focus on the road. Additionally, drivers who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia and narcolepsy are also at a greater risk of falling asleep while driving. Some medications can also make drivers sleepy. So, when driving, don't ignore these warning signs.
Whether you drive alone or with someone, drowsy driving is a real danger on the road. It is common for people to fall asleep behind the wheel and crash while driving. In addition to being a high risk factor, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Drivers should also follow a consistent sleep schedule to maintain alertness. Drivers should also take breaks every hundred miles. Avoiding alcohol, drugs, or other substances while driving also decreases your risk of drowsy driving.