The dangers of drowsy driving
When it comes to accidents behind the wheel, people may be quick to blame inebriated drivers. Although drunk, drugged and distracted driving is an epidemic, there is another concern on the nation’s roadways — drowsy driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths every year. These numbers continue to grow and may not even be accurate. The National Institute of Medicine believes a more accurate assessment of annual drowsy driving-related fatalities is closer to 6,000 per year. The Canadian Automobile Association says 20 percent of accidents in Canada are attributed to drowsy driving.
According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the risk of crash depends on the amount of hours of sleep. Whereas getting six to seven hours of sleep equates to 1.3 times the crash risk, getting less than four hours of sleep increases that risk to 11.5 times. Officers with the New Brunswick Royal Canadian Mounted Police say drowsy driving can be just as deadly as driving impaired.
In addition to getting more rest, experts advise reading medication labels to determine if side effects include drowsiness. People who are often tired or are having sleeping difficulties also should schedule appointments with their doctors to address this issue. Anyone who feels tired behind the wheel, has drifted out of his lane, missed road signs or turns, or has difficulty maintaining speed should pull over where it is safe and take a break.