Picture this: You wake up at 6 A.M. get ready for work, get the kids off to school then head to work yourself. By the time you leave work at 5 P.M., You’ve been awake for almost 12 hours. Let’s also say that you went to bed at 11:30 P.M. the previous night after getting caught up watching “Stranger things” on Netflix. That’s only six and a half hours asleep (and let’s be real probably only six after you toss and turn trying to fall asleep for the first 30 minutes). Six and half hours out of 24 hours sleeping? Not a good ratio.
Driving drowsy killed 5,000 in Related Crashes in 2015.
A new report recently released by the CDC showed that people who are getting a lack of sleep are the ones responsible for the growing number of drowsy drivers. Almost 84 million Americans have admitted to sleeping less than the seven to eight recommended hours of sleep a night. That means one in four drivers are at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Driving drowsy can be compared to drunk driving. Reaction time and judgments are impaired. Most drowsy drivers are found to be teenagers and young adults. The report attests that to inexperience and biological changes. I would also attest it to the schedules of this age group. Most high schoolers start class around 7:30 AM and after school goes straight to extra-curricular activities, then home to study until late, many not going to bed until very late. This cycle of little sleep would obviously relate to their elevated levels of drowsy driving.
What is it about drowsy driving that is so dangerous?
Sleepiness can cause the following: impaired reaction time, judgment and vision; problems with information processing and short-term memory; decreased performance, vigilance, and motivation; and increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors.
Certain groups of people are more likely to drive drowsy than others.
Higher risk groups of drowsy drivers include the following: males under 25 years old; late shift workers and people with long work hours (working the night shift increases your risk by nearly six times); commercial long-haul truck drivers (at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue.); and people with undiagnosed or untreated disorders (those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel).
Be aware of the warning signs of driving drowsy.
Should you find yourself feeling sleepy behind the wheel, it’s crucial to stop driving. Be aware of your responsibility to be alert and sober when driving. Also, watch out for these warning signs of drowsy driving:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
If you become fatigued while driving, we recommend pulling off the road to a safe area, either a rest stop or parking lot and take a short nap to regain energy. For more warning signs visit the CDC.
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