Drowsy Driving Mimics Drunk Driving
Millions of U.S. drivers fall asleep while driving every year, and a new study suggests that drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving.
According to lead study author Stephen Higgins, a researcher at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is not just falling asleep at the wheel; it mimics alcohol-impaired driving in many ways. He added that drowsiness leads to slower reaction times and impaired attention, mental processing, judgment, and decision making.
Higgins and his colleagues used data from previously published research and crash data from 2010 for the study. They also examined lifestyle factors, including working long and irregular hours, working night shifts, and having multiple jobs to identify the primary causes of the problem.
They have also found out that those who tend to frequently go to nightclubs or thrill-seeking individuals are also more likely to be drowsy drivers. But they have noted that even people who don’t fit the profile of a typical drowsy driver can still be at risk for drowsy driving, especially when they don’t get enough rest.
- Over 6,000 people die in drowsy driving-related motor vehicle crashes each year in the U.S.
- Approximately 15 percent of all deadly crashes involve a drowsy driver.
- In 2010, there were 32,999 total fatal crashes and 3.9 million total injury crashes.
- Three percent of U.S. drivers, representing more than seven million drivers, were reported to be falling asleep behind the wheel in two week span.
- Drivers who sleep for less than five hours daily, drivers who have slept for less than seven hours in the past 24 hours, and drivers who have slept for one or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours are equal to being intoxicated; thus, significantly elevating crash rates.
Drowsy Driving in Kentucky
In Kentucky, drowsy driving has been a major concern in the past years and as a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I must say that the situation is concerning. In 2014, we witnessed 2,232 crashes related to driver fatigue, which resulted to 1,201 injuries and 27 fatalities.
There are many reasons why people lack sleep, from frequent use of social media to pervasive long working hours. We have this tendency of working long hours and pushing ourselves to drive even when we are already exhausted. Teens, on the other hand, get sleep deprived because they tend to wake up in the middle of the night to check or send messages on social media. And when they have to drive the next day, they feel tired.
Drowsy driving is a serious problem. And we should not take it lightly. The best defense, however, against drowsy driving is simple – get enough sleep every night. Sleep deprivation affects not only our health but also our safety on the road. Make sure that you are well rested and get plenty of sleep before hitting the road.