The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving occurs when drivers are too tired to remain alert and focused behind the wheel. Drivers can fall asleep and lose control of the vehicle.

 

There are no exact numbers on how many people drive drowsy, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 100,000 crashes a year result from tired drivers. There is no currently accepted way to measure if you or someone else is too tired to drive, however, there are some groups that are more at risk for drowsy driving.

 

Shift workers or business travelers may have different sleep schedules than their bodies want, which can cause them to wake up frequently during sleep and feel unrefreshed after sleeping.

 

People who are sleep deprived may have trouble staying awake behind the wheel.

 

People who have stayed up longer than usual are more likely to have problems with reacting in time and staying awake.

 

People on certain medications could be at a higher risk to be drowsy. Some pain medications, antidepressants, cold or cough medicines and other medicines can cause sleepiness. Ask your physician if any of your prescribed or over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness.

 

People with undiagnosed sleep disorders should seek help from their health care provider if they are having trouble falling or staying asleep at night.

 

Signs of Drowsy Driving
There is no easy test to determine if you are a danger to yourself or others. Studies have shown that people often can’t judge how tired they are. Most incidents happen between midnight and 6 am.

  • Yawning constantly
  • Ending up too close to the next car
  • Missing road signs or driving past turns
  • Drifting out of the lane
  • Heavy eyelids

 

How To Prevent Drowsy Driving

  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep at night
  • Get a ride from someone else
  • Take public transit or a taxi
  • Pull over to a safe place and take a nap in your car
  • Drive with someone

 

If you find that you are unable to sleep 7-8 hours a night, or are still tired after getting that much sleep, you may have a sleep disorder. Some disorders that might cause you to be tired during the day include Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy & Insomnia. The good news is that there are many effective treatments for sleep disorders.

 

What are the consequences of drowsy driving?

Many people never realise that they are putting themselves and others at risk by driving while impaired by sleepiness

  • You could get in an accident that could damage you or someone else’s property
  • You could injury yourself or others
  • Serious accidents can lead to death
  • In some states, people have gone to jail for their role in drowsy driving accidents

 

Fortunately, drowsy driving is preventable. Knowing the signs and risk factors for drowsy driving will help you recognize when someone shouldn’t be driving. Getting enough sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving.

 

SOURCE: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine- www.aasmnet.org

 

 

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