According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4% of nearly 150,000 adults ages 18 and older in 19 states and the District of Columbia admitted to falling asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days. These individuals had only six hours of sleep or fewer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that drowsy driving caused 91,000 crashes in 2017 alone. Of these incidents, 795 people were killed and 50,000 were injured. The NHTSA added that drowsy driving often goes underreported, similar to other crash reports that involve driver inattention.
Related: Distracted Driving Accidents Underreported
What are some warning signs of drowsy driving?
People who are more likely to drive drowsy include those who do not get enough sleep such as shift workers, drivers taking medications that induce drowsiness and commercial truck, trailer and bus drivers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re feeling sleepy. More often than not, you just fall into it and wake up a few seconds later. However, this is extremely dangerous. As per the CDC, some warning signs include:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Missing exits
- Drifting from your lane
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles
Drowsy driving prevention
Drowsy driving can be prevented. You can protect yourself as well as others you’re sharing the road with by taking the necessary precautions. Here are a few tips to staying awake and alert while driving:
- Start a sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up around the same time every day) and stick to it.
- Get enough sleep. According to the National Institute of Health, teens need at least nine to 10 hours of sleep while adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- If you feel sleepy while driving, pull over in a safe area and take a nap. You could also stop at the nearest hotel for the night.
- Don’t assume you can drive through the night, especially if you’re driving alone. Falling asleep for even a few seconds can be fatal.
As a personal injury lawyer in Louisville at The Shafer Law Office, I know there’s no substitute for sleep. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, so don’t force yourself to drive if you feel sleepy. If you have a road trip planned, make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before and drive with others in the car. It’s also a good idea to rotate drivers every-so-often to give them a break. Remember to get plenty of rest before you drive. This will make your road trip safer as well as more enjoyable.