Drowsy Driving is Deadly Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving drowsy causes more than 100,000 crashes, 1,550 deaths, and 71,000 injuries every year.

With Iowa’s many manufacturing, agricultural, and processing industries, long shifts are quite common and have caused drowsy driving to become a serious issue. Drowsy drivers have slow reaction times, often swerve in and out of lanes, veer off the road, and have a higher propensity to cause a crash.

In other words, drivers need to wake up to the serious problem of drowsy driving – it’s just as dangerous as drunk driving. Indicators of drowsiness are:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids.
  • Daydreaming or wandering thoughts.
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven.
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip.
  • Feeling restless and irritable.
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Being awake for 18 hours straight is as impairing as a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
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Roughly 41% of drivers in the U.S. have admitted to falling asleep while driving
Less than 6 Hours per Night is 2 Times more likely...
Those who average less than six hours of sleep per night are two times as likely to report drowsy driving in the past 30 days compared to someone who averages seven hours of sleep a night
   Less than 5 Hours per Night is 4 Times more likely...
Those who average less than five hours of sleep per night are four times as likely to report drowsy driving in the past 30 days compared to someone who averages seven hours of sleep a night

*Statistics from the October issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

It’s a Law Not a Suggestion

  • Although Iowa does not have specific laws pertaining to drowsy driving, drivers can be prosecuted in criminal and civil courts for the results of their driving behavior causing fatalities or serious injury.
  • A citation will not be given for drowsy driving, but for the erratic driving behavior associated with it such as careless driving, improper use of lanes, unsafe turn or improper use of signal.

Most at Risk

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Younger drivers: 55 percent of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old.
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Shift workers and long hour workers: Working the night shift increases your risk of crash due to drowsiness by nearly six times.
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Commercial drivers: At least 15 percent of all heavy-truck crashes involve fatigue.
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People with sleep disorders: People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

Precursors to Drowsy Driving

To avoid becoming a hazard on the road, understand the risks and warning signs of drowsy driving. Below are some things to consider before getting behind the wheel.

  • Am I sleep-deprived or fatigued (less than six hours of sleep)?
  • Will I be driving for longer than two hours or 100 miles without rest?
  • Will I be driving alone or with companions?
  • Will I be driving for long periods of time on rural or dark roads?
  • Will I be driving during a time of the day I normally sleep?
  • Have I worked 60 or more hours this week?
  • Am I currently taking sleep aids or other medication with side effects causing drowsiness?
  • Do I suffer from regular insomnia or irregular sleep patterns?