Drunk drivers and distracted drivers are regularly in the news, but there's another form of impairment that causes a number of accidents statewide: drowsiness. Since next week (November 2-9) is Drowsy Driving Prevention week, our Missouri personal injury lawyers share some facts, statistics, and safety tips related to the problem of the drowsy driver.
Drowsy drivers: Facts and statistics
- In a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, about 60% of adult drivers (or approximately 168 million people) admitted to getting behind the wheel while feeling drowsy within the past year. In addition, nearly 40% of those drivers (approximately 11 million people) said they had actually dozed off while driving.
- Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that drowsy drivers contribute to at least 100,000 police-reported crashes every year. These accidents result in approximately 1,550 deaths; 71,000 injuries; and $12.5 billion in costs.
- When you've been awake for about 18 hours, your cognitive impairment is similar to a driver with a 0.05% blood alcohol content, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After you've been up for 24 hours, your impairment is similar to a driver with a 0.10% BAC.
Drowsy driving: Who's at risk?
- Younger drivers, particularly males under age 26
- Employees who work long hours or night shifts (notably, night shift workers have a crash risk six times higher than the average driver; drivers who work more than 60 hours a week have a 40% greater risk)
- Commercial drivers (fatigue is a factor in at least 15% of all heavy truck accidents)
- Drivers with undiagnosed/untreated sleep disorders
- Business travelers (drivers who spend many hours behind the wheel, or who may be jet-lagged)
Warning signs: Are you driving while drowsy?
- Are you yawning or blinking excessively?
- Are you struggling with wandering or disconnected thoughts?
- Do you have trouble remembering the last few miles you've driven?
- Have you drifted out of your lane or been jerked awake by a rumble strip?
- Have you missed exits, turns or traffic signals?