We all know the dangers of drinking and driving and distracted driving, but what about the threat of drowsy driving? The holiday season is full of festivities and most people’s calendars are packed to the max. With nightly events a part of the holiday schedule, many people are at the risk of driving on too little sleep.
Sleep deprivation can cause lapses in attention and other unsafe driving behaviors. Studies have shown that drowsy driving can actually cause impairment similar to those caused by alcohol.
Just how dangerous is drowsy driving? The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that overtired drivers cause 100,000 crashes a year. Those accidents resulted in an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Particularly susceptible are 18-29 year olds, 71% of whom say they have driven while drowsy. A shocking 37% of adults have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Not surprisingly, 59% of parents have reported drowsy driving.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID BECOMING A STATISTIC?
- Get eight hours of sleep per night. People who get six to seven hours of sleep a night are twice as likely to crash, and those who get five or less are four times as likely.
- Pull over and take a nap. Even 20 minutes at a rest stop (they’re named that for a reason!) is better for you than risking falling asleep at the wheel as you try to reach your destination.
- Take breaks on long trips. The NHSA advises stopping every two hours or 100 miles.
- Travel in groups. If possible, ask one passenger to stay awake to help the driver stay alert.
- If you’re too tired to drive to the event, skip it or call for arrange for alternate transportation.
Crashes caused by drowsy driving can cause irreversible harm. If you or someone you know has been injured by this dangerous practice, a personal injury attorney can examine your case.
Facts and Stats, www.drowsydriving.org