In the United States, drowsy driving is a significant problem; about one in 25 adult drivers has fallen asleep while driving in the last month! There are many factors that contribute to driving drowsy, including taking certain medications, untreated sleep disorders, drinking alcohol, and coming off a long workday.
Drowsy driving affects your ability to drive safely even if you do not fall asleep entirely. Fatigue may slow your reaction times, interfere with your ability to focus on the road, and impair your decision-making capabilities.
In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths. The CDC actually believes these figures are underestimated, and that up to 6,000 fatal crashes may result from drowsy driving each year. It is imperative to know the warning signs of drowsy driving to protect yourself as well as those around you:
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles driven
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Missing your exit
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
Any of these warning signs should prompt you to pull over and rest. Using “hacks” or “cheats” such as opening a window or turning up the radio are ineffective methods for staying alert.
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