While it doesn’t get as much publicity as distracted driving, driving while you’re tired is a dangerous road hazard that causes multiple crashes and fatalities each year. It’s far too common and many ignore the warning signs, not realizing the severity of their actions.
Drowsy driving has serious consequences. According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, drowsy driving contributes to roughly 1.2 million crashes each year causing 5,000 to 8,000 fatalities - that’s twice as many as are caused by distracted driving.
Drowsy driving is risky driving behavior with outcomes similar to that of drunk driving. Driving when you’re tired hinders your judgment, reaction time and concentration. But the thing is, it’s entirely preventable.
Recognizing the warning signs is key to keeping you and other motorists safe:
- Nodding off while behind the wheel.
- Missing traffic signs or exits.
- Yawning and rubbing your eyes.
- Drifting from your lane or tailgating.
Are you at risk?
Those working overnight or long shifts, new parents, commercial truck drivers and business travelers are at greater risk to be involved in a drowsy driving crash.
The only way to correct drowsy driving is with sleep. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel rested. Those who get less sleep are more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash. It’s important to be mindful about when you feel sleepier during the day as drowsy driving crashes are more likely to happen between 2 PM and 6 PM and during the overnight hours when people naturally feel sleepier.
To keep yourself safe, take regular breaks during long road trips and pull over in a safe location if you’re tired. Driving with a friend helps too as drowsy driving crashes are more likely to happen when you're driving by yourself.