Have you ever driven your car while you were sleepy all the way? We will discuss the causes and effects of drowsy driving in the post. Stay tuned for practical ways to reduce it.
Facts and Statistics:
Here are some statistics shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 100,000 crashes are a result of driver fatigue according to the NHTSA. In these crashes, almost 1,550 people die. At the same time, 71000 injuries happened annually due to such car accidents. Monetarily, there is a loss of $12.5 billion, and it’s quite a considerable amount that is wasted because the driver was feeling asleep.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving is a reason for at least one fatal accident in new jersey.
Causes of Drowsy Driving:
Many factors contribute to drowsy driving. Some are listed here:
Sleep associations suggest that eight to nine hours of sleep per day is appropriate for adults. Our routines are so messed up that we stay awake till late at night and feel sleepy during the day. That is why sleep deprivation is the primary cause of drowsy driving. Our senses become less active when we are sleep deprived. Insufficient sleep worsens decision making and slows reaction time as well.
Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea are permanent causes of drowsy driving. More than 70 million people in the US are sleep deprived or have sleep disorders. These silent diseases are more dangerous when they are undiagnosed, and because of interrupted and restricted sleep, such disorders cause day drowsiness.
Now, it is an optional cause that mostly leads to night accidents. Alcohol directly affects human senses, and we do not perceive things as they need to be perceived. The maximum alcohol limit in blood for driving is set to be 0.08% in the US. Twenty hours without sleep can cause the same effect on the human body as 0.08% of alcohol in the blood.
Somehow, medicine intake is also related to alcohol consumption. It is because medicines may also cause sleepiness and slow our body’s functionality to give it some rest. The drowsiness caused by sleep aids, prescription drugs, or other tablets taken at night lasts to the next day, causing day drowsiness.
According to surveys by transportation engineers and traffic police, most accidents happen between midnight or at 6 am or mid-afternoon. Did you notice that these hours are peak times of sleep? If the driver does not regularly drive in these hours and is sleep deprived as well, he is at significant risk of crashing.
People at Risk:
Here, I am mentioning workers of different domains that are at higher risk of such drowsy accidents. If you are one of them, follow the precautionary measures provided later.
- Young people from ages 16 to 29. (Males have high probability)
- Shift workers
- Those suffering from sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
- People who drive during sleep hours.
- Users of sedative medicines and alcohol consumers
Alarming Sign while driving that you may ignore:
Following are the common indicators for drowsiness. You should stop driving and rest as soon as possible when you observe any of these signs while driving.
- Frequent yawning
- Feeling like dozing off
- Droopy eyes or when you feel like you need to blink eyes faster to see what is coming
- You enter other lanes or hit rumble strips on the road.
- Missing road signs
- Not being able to maintain a proper distance from other vehicles
- Being unable to remember the last few miles of driving
- Losing speed control
How to avoid drowsy accidents:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and traffic police institutions try their best to facilitate and educate the masses about accidents caused by drowsy driving. Always be mindful of these preventive measures for the safety of yourself and your beloved ones.
Estimate your driving hours:
It is a good practice to estimate your driving hours before you drive. You can break it into miles for a long driving time and take a rest in intermediate breaks.
Avoid driving during drowsiest hours:
We all have different routines, but surveys show the drowsiest hours are 12 midnight, 6 am and mid-afternoon when people like to take a nap. Observe your routine to find your sleepy hours when you are comparatively less responsive. Try not to drive in these hours.
Plan to take breaks in long drives:
As mentioned in the first point, it is better to divide longer paths and rest after regular intervals. In this way, you can keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by drowsiness.
Try to sleep appropriately in sleep hours:
It is highly crucial to take proper sleep to avoid drowsy driving accidents and have maximum efficiency in other tasks. Just like you can not run a machine continuously for hours, your body also needs rest after all day’s hectic work.
Avoid alcohols and other sedatives:
Don’t take alcohol or other sedatives before driving. If you have to take prescribed medicines with some sedatives, contact your doctor to recommend that medicine’s alternative.
Have a travel companion:
One of the best methods to avoid falling asleep while driving is to have a travel companion. Have a little chit chat with your companion. Some people like to turn on the radio or listen to songs, but since it is one-way communication; hence, there are chances that you feel drowsiness unless it’s your favourite song or broadcaster!
Look for warning signs:
Warning indications described earlier will help you in alerting you to activate yourself against drowsiness and dozing off.
Caffeine makes you stay awake and active. Utilize products with caffeine like coffee or tea before driving.
How many crashes are caused by drowsy driving?
A survey reported that 8.8 percent to 9.5 percent of all crashes were because of drowsy driving. The drowsiness was judged based on the driver’s eyelid closure.
How many crashes are caused by Fatigue?
A study by Virginia Tech Transportation estimates that Fatigue causes 20 percent of all car crashes. Predominantly, young drivers suffer from such accidents because of Fatigue.
Who most often falls asleep while driving defensive driving?
The NTSA data on drowsy driving says that men are five percent more likely to get involved in accidents resulted from Fatigue. Moreover, the latest statistics show that 82% of drowsy drivers who were driving alone got involved in an accident.
Drowsy driving is one of the leading reasons for accidents, as per reports and surveys. But it can be avoided if people take it seriously. The best precaution to avoid drowsy driving is proper sleep. Drive safely and take care of your beloved ones. Although if you are in deep trouble then don’t forget to contact Rosengard Law Group that specializes in defending their clients.