hands on steering wheel for blog about preventing drowsy drivingAre you getting enough sleep these days?

For many, the answer is no. Whether it’s extended work hours, late-night study sessions or worries over world pandemics, interruptions to our sleep schedules happen. Behind the wheel, drowsiness can be fatal. We’ve got stats on the problem, and steps to prevent accidents.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that about half of adult drivers in the U.S. admit to consistently driving while feeling drowsy, and about 20% admit to falling asleep while driving within the last year alone.

Who’s Most at Risk for Drowsy Driving?

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 328,000 drowsy driving crashes take place every year. Some people are more at risk for this type of impaired driving.

  • Business travelers and other frequent travelers who cross time zones, suffer jet lag or spend long hours behind the wheel.
  • Young drivers who often combine inexperience with sleepiness and may be more likely to drive at night. Males 16–25 are especially at risk.
  • Shift workers and others with long hours who take on night, double or rotating shifts, or work more than one job.
  • Commercial drivers who often combine high mileage and night driving, and who are at high risk for sleep disorders.
  • People with undiagnosed sleep disorders including sleep apnea or insomnia can be up to seven times more likely to have a drowsy driving crash.

Although these are the high-risk groups, anybody can fall prey to drowsy driving. Let’s look at how to avoid adding to the statistics.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

Getting a good night’s sleep (seven or more hours) is the most effective prevention against drowsy driving. Here are a few other recommendations:

  • Get off the road if you start to feel warning signs of fatigue.
  • Find a place to take a quick, 20-minute nap.
  • Drink two cups of coffee, which can increase alertness for several hours (but don’t rely on caffeine for long periods).
  • Drive with a friend, who can stay alert to any signs of your fatigue and can ideally switch with you.
  • Check your medications for warnings about drowsiness, and follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • As always, never drink before driving, and always wear your seatbelt.

Don’t Add to the Numbers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes due to drowsy driving cause 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. If you’ve been injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligence, we can help you understand your legal rights and options for recovery. No need to sleep on it—contact us today to get started.