Getting enough sleep might seem like an impossible task in today’s society. Between work, family and social obligations, fitting everything into a single day may just be harder than ever before. This does not excuse drowsy driving, though. Like other poor driving behavior, driving while tired can seriously harm and even kill people.
Every year, drowsy drivers cause at least 100,000 crashes and more than 1,500 traffic fatalities. These statistics only account for police reported motor vehicle accidents too, so there is the possibility that the actual number of drowsy driving accidents is much higher. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), over 40% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep while driving at least once.
Does age matter?
There is no age limit on drowsy driving. However, a survey from AAA found that younger drivers tend to engage in drowsy driving more frequently than older drivers. Specifically, drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years of age who have caused a crash are almost twice as likely to admit to being tired at the time of the collision than drivers between the ages of 40 and 50.
Age also matters when it comes to people’s perceptions of drowsy driving. For example, drivers aged 18 to 24 tend to believe that driving under the influence of alcohol is less dangerous than driving while tired. On the other hand, drivers aged 25 to 34 tend to identify drowsy driving as being more dangerous than texting behind the wheel.
Is drunk driving worse?
Drowsy driving is dangerous for a number of different reasons. However, one of the reasons that tired drivers pose such a threat is because their behaviors mimic those of drunk drivers. Some of the behaviors that drowsy and drunk drivers share include:
- Poor decision making
- Slowed reaction times
- Blurred vision
Drivers who are too tired to be behind the wheel often miss some of the signs that indicate it is no longer safe to be on the road. This is also a problem for those who have been drinking alcohol. If at any point a driver nods off, suffers from blurred vision or loses control — even briefly — or he or she should pull over right away.
How to avoid drowsy driving
One of the best ways to avoid being a drowsy driver is to simply get enough sleep. The average adult needs anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Another good way to make sure you are alert behind the wheel is to avoid driving during hours when you may normally be asleep, and you should wait to drive after starting new medications.
Surviving a drowsy driving accident can be a traumatic experience. On top of physical injuries, you might also be dealing with emotional trauma and financial stressors, such as medical bills and lost wages. While this can be a lot to face all at once, many car accident victims in California find that the financial compensation from successfully navigated personal injury suits is essential to their recovery.