Drowsy Driving Danger

Drowsy Driver Danger

The best method to keep auto insurance premiums low and vehicle occupants protected is safe driving. No matter what a cars safety rating, it’s safest not to be involved in a crash. A growing cause of car crashes is drowsy driving. Fatigued drivers are as much at risk to crash their vehicle as an alcohol-impaired driver.

Impaired Drivers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) an estimated 100,000 car crashes each year are directly related to driving while fatigued. Police say most of these crashes could be prevented if the driver was not impaired.

Based on NHTSA’s findings, a driver who has been awake for 20 hours suffers the same impairment as a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08%; the legal level of presumed intoxication in the United States.

Over one-third of the respondents to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2013 sleep poll said they had driven while drowsy at least once a month during the last year, an increase of 13% over 2014 results. A third of those admitted they had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving.

Many crashes involving drowsy drivers result in injury or fatality. Most are single vehicle crashes with a male driver and occur between midnight and 6am on a high speed road.

Sleep is the Best Answer

The NSF poll shows that a driver with only 6 hours sleep in the last 24 hours is four times more likely to be involved in a crash than a driver who has slept eight hours. Fatigued drivers suffer slower reaction times, decreased awareness of their surroundings, and reduction of judgment.

Short naps can supplement a driver’s need for sleep. If a driver feels sleepy, taking a fifteen minute nap followed by ingesting the amount of caffeine in two cups of coffee can help ward off the effects of fatigue for about an hour. A nap and caffeine is not a substitute for a good night’s sleep but they may keep a driver alert until they can get to a stop for the night.

Most Drivers are Not Aware

Most drivers are ineffective judges of when they are too tired to drive. They tend not to recognize or notice the signs of impairment. Passengers are able to better determine a driver’s fatigue level.

The best precaution in addition to a good night’s sleep is to recognize the warning signs of possible driver fatigue. Here are signs to look for and some safe driving tips to avoid becoming a victim of this rapidly growing roadway danger.

Warning Signs

If a driver exhibits any of these signs they may be getting drowsy.
Turning up the radio or rolling down the window
Slowed reaction time to road hazards
Decrease in driving performance level
Difficulty focusing on vehicles or other objects
Excessive blinking or micro sleeping (2-3 second naps)
Trouble concentrating on driving
Drifting out of the travel lane or following too closely
Missing exits or inability to read road signs

Protect Yourself

Take a 15-20 minute nap
Drink coffee or a caffeinated beverage
Take a caffeine supplement
Take a break from driving, get out of the car
Take a short walk
Do some physical exercise
Stop and sleep for eight hours

Arrive Safely

The best protection against drowsy driving is 8-9 hours of sleep the night before. Taking a break out of the vehicle and doing some mild physical exertion and stretching about every 100 miles helps reduce the tedium of extended driving and helps keep the driver more alert. Reduced fatigue increases the chance of arriving safely.