Drowsy Driving – Why it Matters

Your eyelids droop, and your head starts to nod. Yawning becomes almost constant and your vision seems blurry. You blink hard, focus your eyes, and suddenly realize you’ve veered onto the shoulder or into oncoming traffic for a moment and quickly straighten the wheel. This time you were lucky; next time, you could become the latest victim of drowsy driving. No matter how you describe it, driving while you are sleepy, tired, drowsy, or fatigued is extremely dangerous and a contributing factor in thousands of crashes every year.


The following statistics demonstrate the need to remain diligent and focused on this significant problem:

  • A recent study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that one out of every six (16.5%) deadly traffic accidents and one out of eight (12.5%) crashes requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
  • According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year.
  • Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy (56% vs. 45%) and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving.
  • More than half of drowsy driving crashes involve drivers drifting out of their lanes or off the road.


Most people are aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, but many do not know that drowsiness also impairs judgment, performance and reaction times just like alcohol and drugs. Studies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, the legal limit in all states. Sleepiness and fatigue have also been linked to decreases in vigilance, reaction time, memory, coordination, information processing, and decision making – all of which are needed for safe driving.

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