The dangers of "driving drowsy": Facts, statistics & safety tips for Missouri motorists

driving-at-night-314564-m.jpgDrunk 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?
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