Drowsy Driving: Dangers and Statistics

Drowsy Driving: Dangers and Statistics

By Richard P. Hastings, Esq.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are over 50,000 sleep related crashes annually resulting in 40,000 injuries in over 1,500 fatalities.

Driver fatigue affects a large number of people but many of us do not think of the dangerous consequences which can result from these this situation. Drowsy driving can result from a hypnotic effect brought on by driving on an open road. This effect can be greatly magnified when driving at night.

The results of drowsy driving can be that: you fall asleep and crash your vehicle or because you are tired and/or exhausted; your reaction time is compromised; or your make a serious error in judgment. Any of these situations could result in a serious accident or death. Perhaps the greatest challenge with tired driving is that it can affect you long before you even notice that you are getting to be that tired.

A typical crash involving drowsy driving could include the following characteristics: a single vehicle leaves its lane of travel where the driver is alone; the crash occurs at a high rate of speed where the driver does not attempt to avoid the collisions; and the crash occurs driving at late night or early morning hours.

The behaviors or risk which contribute to drowsy driving include: driving while experience in a lack of sleep; driving long hours into the late night; driving after while using prescription medication or over the counter medicines that can cause drowsiness; consuming alcohol before driving; and driving while you are experiencing some type of illness, condition or sleep disorder.

It is important that you be mindful of the symptoms of drowsy driving so you can recognize them and take the appropriate action of pulling off the road or discontinuing your driving. These symptoms could include frequent yawning; heavy eyelids; varying your vehicle's speed for no apparent reason; drifting out of your lane of travel; frequent day dreaming; misjudging traffic situations; and feeling your head become heavy.

By recognizing potentially dangerous risky behaviors and the circumstances that give rise to these hazards it will help us to become better drivers which should translate into less accidents, injuries, and deaths on our roadways.