Drowsy Driving

Have you ever been driving home from work, or maybe to a vacation spot and thought, “I am getting tired, but I am SOO close. I can’t stop now?” Have you ever caught yourself excessively yawning, or drifting from your lane? How about missing your exit or not remembering the last few miles? Maybe you have hit the rumble strips a few too many times? 

If you can say yes to any of these things, then you have been guilty of “drowsy driving.” Maybe you have thought, I would never drive drunk… but sleep deprivation at 24 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.10%, above the legal limit.

Drowsy driving is dangerous for many reasons:

  • it affects your ability to make good decisions
  • Slows your reaction time
  • Limits your ability to pay attention

Would you want to be in a car or sharing the road with someone driving like this? I sure would not, but sadly 1 in 25 adults report having fallen asleep while driving. According to the National Highway Safety Administration over 91,000 accidents in 2017 were the result of drowsy driving. Imagine 91,000 preventable accidents!

What can YOU do to prevent drowsy driving?

  • Get enough sleep. Most adults require 7 hours a day of sleep.
  • Develop good sleeping habits, such as a good sleep schedule.
  • If you have symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as never feeling rested or snoring, seek professional evaluation and treatment.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take medications that may make you drowsy before you drive.
  • Avoid driving during midnight and 7 am when your body naturally will want to sleep.
  • On long road trips, plan for rest times so that you can recharge and be fully focused behind the wheel.
  • Utilize the technology in your vehicle. Lane departure warnings can alert you when it is time to take a break.

Blog submitted by:

Kelly Llewellyn, MSN, RN

Injury Prevention/EMS Specialist

Meritus Health

References

Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. (2021). Drowsing driving; Asleep at the wheel https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/features/drowsy-driving.html

Sleep Foundation. (2022). Drowsy driving. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/drowsy-driving

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