Drowsy drivers add to the dangers of everyday driving. A significant number of auto accidents are a direct result of drowsy driving. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there are roughly 328,000 drowsy driving accidents, annually.
- 109,000 injury crashes
- 6,400 fatal crashes
- $12.5 billion in monetary losses
Meanwhile, the National Sleep Foundation, in its 2005 Sleep in America poll, found that around 60 percent of adult drivers drove their vehicle while feeling drowsy last year. And most concerning, more than one-third of these drivers reported they actually fell asleep while driving.
Drowsy Driving Mirrors Drunk Driving
The GHSA found that drowsy driving has many of the same effects as drunk driving.
For instance, the GHSA reports that if you drive your vehicle and have not slept in 18 hours, this is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of a .05 percent.
If you drive your vehicle and have not slept in 21 hours, this is equivalent to driving with a BAC of .08 percent. And if you drive your vehicle and have not slept in 24 hours, this is equivalent to driving with a BAC of .10 percent.
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Avoiding Drowsy Driving
There are various steps you can take to avoid driving while drowsy:
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. A lack of sleep slows down your reaction time.
- If possible, do not drive between the hours of midnight and 7:00 a.m., or in the mid-afternoon. During these times, we are the least alert/attentive and most tired, according to the GHSA.
- If you are taking a long trip, be sure to take plenty of breaks. GHSA recommends stopping every 100 miles or every two hours. This will give you time to stretch your legs, use the restroom, get some caffeine, get some food, and try to regain some energy. Though caffeine may be important at times, GHSA maintains that you should not rely on it to keep you awake.
- Do not drink alcohol before driving. GHSA reports that if you have only one beer when you are drowsy, this is equivalent to drinking about three beers when you are awake.