One in 25 adult (age 16+) drivers reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Are you one of these drivers? What many people forget is that driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2013 drowsy driving was
responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths. These numbers may be underestimated. Three independent studies have suggested that drowsy driving was responsible for as many as 6,000 fatal crashes.
Who Drives When Drowsy?
Any of us can find ourselves driving drowsy under the right circumstances. It is late at night, you have been driving all day, and you just want to get home. You have an appointment, but you are tired; typically, you convince yourself you are driving safely. So, who is most likely to drive drowsy? Here is a list of some of the most likely to drive drowsy:
- People who do not get enough sleep.
- Shift workers (often after a night shift or after a change of shift).
- People who take medications that contribute to drowsiness.
- People with untreated sleep disorders (e.g., sleep apnea). The less you sleep, the more likely you will be driving drowsy. According to a study by the AAA Foundation, people who sleep six to seven hours are twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving related crash as those who sleep for eight hours or more. People who sleep less than five hours, increase their risk by four to five times.
- Commercial drivers.
- Adults between the ages of 18 and 29.
- Men are more likely than women to drive drowsy, and they are twice as likely to fall asleep while driving.
- Adults with children in the household.
- An Australian study found that being awake for 18 hours produces the same level of impairment as a blood alcohol level of .05, and .10 after 24 hours. The level at which one is considered legally drunk is .08.