Driving Drowsy (and what it’s costing the country)
As society continues to operate on an increasingly busy schedule with a focus on working longer hours with longer commutes, it is perhaps no surprise that many Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. In fact, one-third of Americans are not receiving the recommended seven hours of quality rest per night. This sleep deficit quickly leads to drowsy driving. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, drowsy driving occurs when a person who is operating a motor vehicle is too tired to remain alert.
Drowsy driving might not sound like a dangerous crime, but the truth is that it can lead to truly catastrophic accidents. Read on to learn more about the dangers of drowsy driving and what it’s costing the country.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
The exact number of drowsy driving accidents per year cannot be determined unless the driver in question is willing to admit they were fatigued at the time of the accident. Regardless, the numbers that have been researched by top experts are staggering.
According to a 2016 report conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), an average of 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occurred on roadways in the United States. Of these, an estimated 109,000 injury-related accidents occurred along with 6,400 fatalities. Additionally, fifty percent of individuals who are involved in these crashes are 25 years old and younger.
Drowsy or fatigued driving can occur at any time of the day or night; however, it is more likely to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. due to the body’s internal clock that regulates sleep. These accidents usually involve at least one passenger and occur on roads and highways in rural areas.
Truck and bus drivers are especially at risk due to the odd hours in which they work. One report found that of the 4,000 truck and bus crashes on U.S. roadways, a tired driver contributed to an estimated 10-20 percent of them.
Not only does driving drowsy endanger everyone on the road, but it also costs the country billions of dollars a year in expenses. Fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes that did not include any property damages cost the United States an estimated $109 billion in 2016.
A quality night’s rest of seven to eight interrupted hours before driving will limit the likelihood of an accident occurring.
If you plan on driving at the end of the night, avoid consuming alcohol as this increases sleepiness. If you’re overly tired, pull over at a rest stop (or the side of the road, if you can safely due so) and take a nap. Putting the window down for air or turning the volume up on the radio does little to help prevent an accident. If you plan on taking a long road trip, avoid driving alone or plan to break the drive up into parts.