Feeling sleepy? Then it’s probably not the time to get behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving is a huge problem on America’s roadways. The dangerous behavior continues to take thousands of lives every year, yet attention to the issue gets sidelined to drunken and distracted driving.
That’s something the Governors Highway Safety Association hopes to change by releasing a new study. Together with State Farm Insurance, it released research that details the dangerous effects of driving while tired. Depending on the level of sleepiness, driving while tired can be just as dangerous, and deadly, as driving drunk.
The report estimates that drowsy driving causes 328,000 crashes each year. (But that number is likely higher since it is hard to detect and report drowsy driving.) Out of those, an estimate of 6,400 result in death. Naturally, the report notes that the sleepier you are the worse you drive. In the extreme case of going 24 hours without sleep, you’re basically driving with a .10 percent blood alcohol level. Yikes.
Another scary factor is that drowsy drivers are on the road at the same time as drunk drivers.
So just how many people are driving drowsy behind the wheel? A lot. According to the report, 84 million American’s drive tired daily. The American Automobile Association reported in 2015 that one in seven drivers admits having nodded off behind the wheel at least once. One-third of respondents admitted to driving tired every month.
The main offenders are youngsters. Over 50 percent of driving drowsy accidents involved drivers 25-year-old or younger.
Here are some tips to make sure you don’t become a drowsy driving crash statistic:
- Get some sleep. The report recommends adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep before hitting the road. Teens need 8 to 10 hours of shut-eye.
- No, that extra cup of coffee, blaring the radio, or opening the window does not make you safer from nodding off.
- Ask someone else to drive if you find yourself on the road with the nods. If you can’t do that find a safe spot to stop for the night or at least take a power nap.
- Don’t drive alone, especially for longer trips.
- Lastly, don’t start trips in the small hours of the morning or at twilight when you’re already likely less alert.
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