A new study reveals how a lack of sleep can deadly for drivers.
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 that 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 the tragedy of drowsy driving.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. However, many people cannot tell if or when they are about to fall asleep. And if sleepiness comes on while driving, many say to themselves, “I can handle this, I’ll be fine.” Yet they’re putting themselves and others in danger. What they really need is a nap or a good night’s sleep.
Sleep deprivation and fatigue make lapses of attention more likely to occur, and may play a role in behavior that can lead to crashes attributed to other causes.
- According to NSF’s 2000 Sleep in America poll, when they are driving drowsy, 42 percent of those polled said they become stressed, 32 percent get impatient and 12 percent tend to drive faster.
- In the same poll, about one in five drivers (22%) said they pull over to nap when driving drowsy. Older adults are more likely to pull over and nap than younger drivers, who are most likely to drive when drowsy and least likely to pull over and nap.
- People tend to fall asleep more on high-speed, long, boring, rural highways. However, those who live in urban areas are more likely to doze off while driving compared to people in rural or suburban areas (24% vs. 17%).
- Most crashes or near misses occur between 4:00 – 6:00 a.m.; midnight – 2:00 a.m. and 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. are also peak times for crashes to occur. Nearly one-quarter of adults (23%) say they know someone personally who has crashed due to falling asleep at the wheel.
- In NSF’s 1999 Sleep in America poll, 60 percent of parents with children who drive living in the household said they have not discussed the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel. In the 2002 poll, nearly all respondents (96%) agreed that information about driving while drowsy should be included in tests for a driver’s license.
Please take some time for yourself and get a good rest, keeping your family safety in mind you and them are priceless.