It is never safe to drive while you are drowsy—period. However, given our fast-paced and busy lives, many of us do it anyway. Sadly, the consequences can be fatal. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 72,000 accidents, 800 deaths, and 44,000 injuries were caused by drowsy driving in 2013.
A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study also highlights how prevalent this practice is. Researchers surveyed drivers 16 years old and older about their driving practices in 2015 as a part of their 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index. They found that while 97% of drivers disapprove of drowsy driving, many have done it anyway. Their survey found that:
The researchers noted that the results were consistent with prior studies on drowsy driving and that drivers were most likely underreporting their episodes of driving when tired.
Driving while sleepy can make you an unsafe driver in a number of ways. These include the following:
While anybody can drive when they are tired, certain groups of people are more at risk of doing this and may do so more frequently than the general population. Those at high risk of drowsy driving include:
You need to know the warning signs of drowsy driving to not cause one of these accidents and to recognize if another driver’s drowsiness caused your crash. Symptoms to watch for include:
Night shift workers are one of the groups at higher risks of driving when tired. Working at night is hazardous to workers’ health in general and to their ability to safely drive because staying awake at night disrupts their natural circadian rhythm—their internal clock. Unfortunately, this affects millions of Americans who must work overnight or rotating shifts.
A small study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that workers’ driving was much more dangerous after their night shift than if they had gotten a full night of sleep. Their findings included the following:
You can take steps to avoid causing a drowsy driving accident both before you get behind the wheel and while on the road. Take these actions to stay safe:
Even if you do not drive when drowsy, another negligent driver might and could cause an accident involving you or a loved one. If you suspect the driver was too tired to drive safely, you need an experienced car accident attorney to help you prove this. We’re here to help. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation.