Drowsy Driving: a More Serious Issue than Americans Think
December 16, 2014
Recent research shows that more than 20 percent of fatal car accidents are due to fatigued drivers. This finding confirms what experts suspected, which was that drowsy drivers are more commonplace than other statistics suggested before. When daylight savings time comes to an end and leaves commuters driving home in the dark, experts recommend drivers learn and remember the signs of fatigue to avoid injuring themselves and other motorists.
Experts pointed out that most drivers do not realize the extent of drowsy driving risks. Researchers also found that crashes due to drowsy drivers have serious consequences. Injuries resulted in more than 30 percent of the crashes, and approximately 6,000 crashes end in one or more fatalities. Prior findings from top research reports showed that drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 were more likely to admit they were drowsy. However, drivers under the age of 18 and over the age of 75 were less likely to admit when they were drowsy.
Research also shows that more than 90 percent of Americans said they thought it was unacceptable for people to drive while drowsy, but nearly 30 percent admitted to doing just that in the past 30 days. It is important to know how to identify the signs of drowsy driving. This includes the following:
- Not being able to recall the last several miles of driving.
- Not being able to focus or keep eyes open.
- Thoughts that seem disconnected or wandering.
- Continual yawning every few minutes.
- A feeling of heaviness in the head.
- Absentmindedly drifting out of the lane or driving on rumble strips.
- Missing traffic signals or traffic signs.
- Inadvertently tailgating vehicles to the front.
When drivers feel tired, experts recommend finding a safe place to pull to the side of the road. It is important to do this if any of the previous symptoms are noted. To keep safe on the road, experts recommend the following tips:
- Get at least seven hours of sleep before a long drive.
- Take a break every 100 miles or every two hours.
- Drive during times when normally awake.
- Travel with a passenger who is alert, and take turns driving if needed.
- Avoid eating heavy foods.
- If chronic fatigue is an issue, consult a sleep specialist.
- Whenever possible, avoid taking medications that may cause drowsiness.
Drowsy drivers make the road unsafe for themselves, their passengers and other motorists. Being alert is important to avoid other disasters such as icy roads, deer and large bits of debris in the road. To learn more, discuss concerns with an agent.