Combatting Drowsy Driving

As if there aren’t enough hazards on the road already, another less expected but very common hazard is drowsy driving. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 21 percent of FATAL automobile accidents involve a drowsy driver. Many drivers have even admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at least once in their lifetime. That’s a scary thought.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also estimates that a tired driver contributes to:

  • 6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene
  • 7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash
  • 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized

In total, their estimates suggest that a drowsy driver is involved in 328,000 crashes annually.

How do I know if I’m too tired to drive? The National Sleep Foundation gives us some warning signs.

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming, or disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles of your drive, missing turns, exits or traffic signs
  • Consistent yawning
  • Drifting, tailgating, or rubbing the shoulder strip.
  • Feeling restless or irritable

If you’ve ever been exhausted and sleepy while driving a vehicle, then you can probably attest to the many ways a driver will try to stay awake. Some of the top ways a person tries to stay awake at the wheel are drinking a caffeinated beverage, switching drivers, opening car windows, listening to loud music, turning up the A/C, eating, smoking, pulling over to stretch or sleep. Only two of these options are proven to be effective in combatting drowsy driving–switching drivers and pulling over to nap.

How do I avoid driving tired?

  1. Plan. If you know you’ll be out on the road, take a short nap ahead of time.
  2. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  3. Drive with a friend. If you have a partner, you can switch drivers at the first sign of drowsiness.
  4. Stay off the road between midnight and 6a.m.
  5. Drink coffee or caffeine to stay alert, but not as a substitute for sleep.

If you or someone you know has been in an accident as a result of a drowsy driver, contact us and find out how we can help get you back on the road safely.