It goes without saying that driving while drowsy will severely affect your ability to drive, even if you do manage to keep your eyes open. Drowsiness will:
- Diminish a driver’s ability to make wise choices.
- Impair reaction times.
- Reduce a driver’s focus and attention to the road.
Drowsy driving occurs more often than it should. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, driver fatigue was responsible for 21% of all motor vehicle crashes which resulted in fatalities. One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver also resulted in serious injuries. To put things into more quantifiable numbers, drowsy driving is an influential factor in approximately 328,000 crashes a year. A third of those crashes resulted in injuries, and 6,400 were fatal collisions.
Statistics alone won’t ever tell the entire story of how relevant fatigue is in collisions that involve drowsy drivers. There is no test to measure drowsiness or fatigue, and it’s up to the driver in question to confess that he or she fell asleep, which won’t happen very often.
Recent surveys conducted on behalf of the CDC show that 4.2% of people surveyed openly admitted to falling asleep at least once behind the wheel in a recent thirty day period. The Gallup Organization also surveyed 4,000 drivers in the U.S, and the results showed that 37% reported falling asleep at least once. The study also showed that males were twice as likely as their female counterparts to drive while drowsy.
According to the NHTSA, car accidents caused by drowsy driving tend to have the following characteristics:
- The vehicle veers off the road or highway.
- A drowsy and/or fatigued driver does little to nothing to avoid the collision.
- High speeds are often involved.
- There is significant property loss and serious injuries.
- Crashes generally occur late night, early in the morning, or mid afternoon.