While numerous headlines and traffic safety pamphlets are devoted to raising awareness for both distracted driving and drunk driving, the hazards presented by drowsy driving are just as dangerous. Drivers who get behind the wheel when tired can cause devastating collisions leading to catastrophic injuries.
Unfortunately, there is no chemical measure for fatigue like there is for impairment. While drivers might recognize when they are tired, they lack the ability to recognize that is will likely affect their safety on the road.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s “Sleep in America” poll, 60% of Americans admitted to driving while sleepy. Of those respondents, 37% admitted having fallen asleep while behind the wheel in the past year. Much like distracted driving, drivers are filled with confidence in their own ability. This combined with downplaying the severity of the fatigue can lead to motor vehicle collisions.
Drowsy drivers might begin daydreaming and losing focus on the task at hand. Many fatigued drivers report that they suddenly arrived at a location without any memory of the trip itself. While this might seem like a humorous anecdote, it can be frightening to realize that a driver has no specific recollection of traffic safety.
Additionally, drowsy drivers might begin to recognize physical symptoms of fatigue. Yawning repeatedly, blurred vision or a drooping head could all signal that it is time to get off the road. Unfortunately, people will often resort to anecdotal methods for staying awake such as turning the music up loud or lowering the windows to allow in a cool breeze. Even drinking coffee or soda might seem to spike a driver’s energy, but when that sugar and caffeine rush wears off, the driver will be in even worse shape than they were before.
Unfortunately, drivers must learn to recognize when they are tired and seek other methods to get home safely. If they cannot plan ahead to avoid the situation altogether, they could seek a ride with a friend or use a ride sharing app for a safer trip.