Safe driving means being alert, attentive, and focused on the task at hand. Trying to accomplish that when you’re drowsy or sleep-deprived can be difficult—and it can put you at an increased risk of being involved in an accident.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that drowsy driving is a major problem in the U.S., and one in 25 adult drivers admits to falling asleep behind the wheel within the past 30 days. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.
What Are the Risk Factors for Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy driving has many causes and contributing factors, including:
- Not getting enough sleep—Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Getting less than that amount can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue behind the wheel.
- Working night shifts or swing shifts—When a person’s circadian rhythm gets out of sync, they may get less sleep and poorer quality sleep, resulting in tiredness during the day.
- Suffering from sleep-disrupting conditions—Sleep apnea is a common medical condition that interferes with sleep. Sufferers are often sleep deprived, and they face increased risks when they drive.
- Taking medications that cause drowsiness—Many medications cause sleepiness and drowsiness, including anti-anxiety medications, allergy medications, and cold medications.
If you regularly feel tired behind the wheel, be sure to talk to your doctor about lifestyle and medication changes that can help you be more alert while driving.
Hurt in a Crash Caused by a Drowsy Driver? We’re Here to Help.
Drivers who nod off or fall asleep behind the wheel can cause serious accidents. Those drivers can be held liable for contributing to crashes, especially when they’re driving commercial vehicles.