With Americans spending so much time behind the wheel it is no wonder that some experts call drowsy driving "almost impossible to avoid." AAA surveyed drivers early in 2019, with one-third of respondents admitting they had driven while so drowsy that they could barely stay awake.
What does that mean for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the roadway? Danger. The National Sleep Foundation says that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as intoxicated driving. In fact, someone who has been awake for 24-hours can be as impaired as someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .10 or higher.
With that level of impairment, drowsy driving is more than a safety hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that drowsy driving is hard because of the following:
· Drivers who are drowsy aren't able to pay attention.
· Drowsiness slows reaction time.
· Drowsiness affects the driver's ability to make good choices.
In terms of how drowsy driving impacts auto accident rates, the CDC further notes:
· One in 25 adult drivers report falling asleep at the wheel in the past 30 days.
· Drowsy driving is responsible for:
o 72,000 accidents each year
o 44,000 injuries
o 800 deaths
· Drowsy driving may be responsible for more like 6,000 fatal accidents each year
Most of us know when we haven't gotten enough sleep. Avoid driving on less than seven hours of sleep. If you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, talk to your doctor about your sleeping habits. Continuing to drive while drowsy puts your life, and those around you, at risk.