The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Society has beaten the dangers of drunk driving and driving while texting into our brains. But don’t forget to sleep enough before hitting the road.

Drowsy driving causes a treacherous amount of damage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), American drivers pile up $12.5 million in vehicular damage as a result of slumbering at the wheel. 71,000 are injured and 1,500 have died this year as a result.

The problem especially plagues young people: 24% of 18-29 year olds have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Younger people are also four times more likely to have sleep-related crashes than drivers over the tender age of 30. Police officers are troubled by these stats, too. About 90% of officers have pulled over at least one driver and expected to find the person intoxicated, but instead discover the driver is just tired.

So how do you know when you’re about to hit the point of no return? Here are some tell-tale signs that you might want to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • You can’t recall the last few miles you’ve driven
  • Your mind is wandering
  • Your eyes and head feels extremely heavy
  • You’re drifting out of your lane, either into another lane or on the rumble strips
  • You yawn excessively
  • You accidentally tailgate other vehicles
  • You miss traffic signs

Fix the problem for yourself and those you know before getting into the driver’s seat. Doing the following might make your drive a lot less sleep-inducing:

  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep per night
  • Drive with a friend, if you can. They can snap you out of your motor micro-nap, or take over the wheel if you’re too tired to.
  • Don’t drive if you’re taking medication that makes you drowsy.
  • Don’t drive if you’ve already had a long day without some sort of rest. No spontaneous road trips after school!