When a person gets in the driver’s seat of a car, he or she is responsible for being in top driving condition before getting on the road. If that person is tired or otherwise suffering from fatigue, the risk of getting into a car accident increases substantially. This is commonly referred to as drowsy driving. Drowsy driving may result in the injury or death of the driver, innocent bystanders, and the destruction of property. This is because like drunk driving, it impairs a person’s ability to concentrate, react, and safely control a vehicle. In some instances, a person may even fall asleep while on the road or freeway. Understanding the severity and consequences of driving while sleepy can help teens understand the importance of being alert and rested before getting behind the wheel of a car.
Who’s at Risk?
Almost anyone can underestimate how tired they are and start to drive. As a result, anyone can potentially be at risk of drowsy driving. Certain people, however, are at greater risk than others. One group of people at high risk are teens and adults under the age of 26. Teens may not realize the danger of driving when they are tired, or they may feel that they can stay awake even though they are tired. Of this group, males are even more at risk. People who have sleeping difficulties or sleep disorders are a high risk group. This is particularly true for people who don’t know that they have a sleep disorder, or whose disorder is untreated. Other people with an increased chance of drowsy driving include people who spend long hours on the road, and people who work long hours.
What Are The Warning Signs?
Not every drowsy driver is aware of the fact that they are too drowsy to drive. Both passengers and drivers will want to be aware of the warning signs that indicate that fatigue or lack of sleep are taking a toll. Excessive yawning is an obvious warning sign that should alert both driver and passenger, as is veering out of the appropriate lane of traffic. Overlooking traffic signs and tailgating are both indications that the driver is tired and unable to focus on the rules of the road. When a passenger sees the driver’s head fall forward and then jerk back up again, the driver is likely nodding off and might be about to fall asleep. A driver that has difficulty keeping his or her eyes open is also clearly too tired to drive. Other warning signs to watch out for include driving past exits and losing track of time and distance traveled.
- National Sleep Foundation – Drowsy Driving
- MedlinePlus: Put the Brakes on Drowsy Driving
- Drowsy Driving Detection and Prevention
- Dealing with Driver Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation PDF
There are clear steps to take in order to prevent drowsy driving and avoid any potential accidents. People should take any lack of sleep or feeling of fatigue into consideration and should not drive if they have not had at least seven hours of sleep, especially if planning to drive a long distance. When a person starts to feel drowsy when driving, he or she should pull over and rest, taking a nap in a safe location for 20 minutes. Drinking caffeine 20 minutes before driving may also help the driver feel more awake. When driving long distances, make rest stops every two hours, or switch drivers if traveling with a licensed passenger. Another important preventive measure is to avoid driving after taking medications that cause drowsiness.
- Drowsy Driving – An Overview
- Drowsy Driving – How do we Prevent Drowsy Driving?
- Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 to 19
- There are over 100,000 drowsy driving-related car accidents annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Twenty percent of all crashes are related to drowsy driving.
- Of all drivers in the United States, 37 to 41 percent have fallen asleep or dozed off while driving.
- Over 50 percent of accidents that result from drivers falling asleep are caused by people that are below the age of 26.
- Drowsy driving causes approximately 1,550 deaths a year.
- Driving While Drowsy – What’s the Harm: Drowsy Driving
- Choose Safety for Life: Drowsy Driving
- Drowsy Driving Statistics
- Drowsy Driving/Fatigue – General Statistics
- Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic
- Drowsy Driving Prevention Week Highlights Prevalent and Preventable Accidents