We’ve all been there – your eyelids start to droop, your head nods, and the road starts to go fuzzy. You are yawning more, that gas station coffee doesn’t help, and the music sounds more like a lullaby. Driving drowsy is a huge problem but it is something that we have all encountered at one time or another. According to polls, at least 60% of Americans have driven drowsy, even though it has been equated to driving drunk.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving has a few key signs that you should pay attention to – if you experience any of them, you should pull off to the side of the road:
- You cannot focus on the road or the task at hand;
- Your eyelids are heavy;
- You cannot remember the last few miles that you drove;
- Your thoughts are disconnected;
- You can’t keep your head up;
- People are beeping at you;
- You feel irritable;
- Your car is drifting.
Who Drives Drowsy?
Driving drowsy is a problem that hits almost every age group, through it is likely that men, adults with children, and those who work odd shifts will get into accidents because of it. College students and young workers also get into accidents.
Men, in particular, are twice as likely to fall asleep when they are driving. If those men have children or work in shifts, they are even more likely to fall asleep. This is because they are also among the most likely to be sleep deprived because of odd schedules. The less these people sleep, the greater the risk for them to fall asleep.
Even worse, the accidents are likely to be much worse if someone travels on major roads. This is why truckers have to keep their hours logged.
Drunk Driving and Drowsy Driving Are Similar
Many studies have shown that driving drowsy can have some of the same impact that driving drunk can have. In fact, being awake for 18 hours or more and driving is the same as being buzzed. If you are awake for 24 hours, it is the same as being drunk.
Another potential danger is people who have sleeping disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and other problems with getting a restful night’s sleep.
Americans At Risk the Most
Nearly three-quarters of people in American drive a car to work, and it is estimate that over half of those people do not get enough sleep at night. This means that at any point, someone around you in the car is driving drowsy. It is completely legal to drive drowsy for the most part, and people don’t realize the dangers of driving while drowsy. Some quarter of people have admitted to driving drowsy, but it is likely that the figure is much higher.
Drowsy Driving Costs
This isn’t just a matter of physical safety – it is a huge problem economically as well. You can get sentenced to jail, face severe fines, and lose your driving privileges. The victims of the accidents have won millions of dollars as a result of drowsy driving.
There aren’t any tests for drowsy driving, which means that you can get yourself into some serious problems. The law isn’t in favor of those who drive while drowsy, and reporting is even worse.
Other Risk Factors
There are other risk factors associated with drowsy driving. You are more likely to make quick judgements that make no sense or put you in danger. Older adults are smarter about this, and they are likely to notice that they have to stop driving. Younger, more inexperienced drivers will just try to rally themselves.
Of course, time of the day has an impact of when drowsy driving occurs as well, studies have found that most crashes occur between 4:00 – 6:00 a.m.; midnight – 2:00 a.m. and 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. When you add medication, alcohol, stress, and other issues to the lack of sleep, it makes the situation that much worse for everyone involved.
Drowsy driving is a serious problem that we have to face at some time or another. Still, we have to be smart and understand our own bodies and what we can do. Going without sleep is dangerous on multiple levels, but it gets even worse when we drive.