Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving occurs when an individual is too tired to remain alert and focused while behind the wheel. Drivers that are drowsy can fall asleep and easily lose control of their vehicle.

How common is Drowsy Driving?

It can be very difficult to determine a drivers sleepiness during an accident, however, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 1000,000 crashes a year result from tired drivers. Studies have shown that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

How do I know if I am at Risk?

There is no quick test to find out if you are at risk for drowsy driving or if you may pose a risk to yourself and others. Studies have shown that it is very difficult to judge just how tired you are. Most accidents happen between midnight and 6 a.m. 

Here are a few signs of drowsy driving:

  • Drifting out of the lanes
  • Driving too close to other cars
  • Heavy Eyelids
  • Missing roads or driving past turns
  • Yawning constantly

Factors that may contribute to drowsy driving

Shift Work and Traveling

Your body wants to sleep when it is dark and be awake when the sun is out. Shift Workers or Business Travelers may have a different sleep schedule than their bodies want which can cause them to feel unrefreshed after sleep due to waking up more frequently.

Feeling sleep deprived?

If you feel as if you do not get enough sleep and find yourself routinely falling asleep during the day you may be sleep deprived. You may have trouble staying awake while engaging in your normal daily activities including remaining alert behind the wheel.

People who have stayed up longer than usual or those who have just stayed up all night are more likely to have problems with reaction time and staying awake.

Medication Interaction and lost sleep

People who may be taking certain medications may be more at risk for drowsiness. Pain medications, antidepressants, cold and cough medicines, and other medications may cause drowsiness.  Be sure to consult with your doctor concerning any prescribed medications or over-the-counter medications that may cause drowsiness.

Consuming Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol negatively affects driving. Sleep deprivation negatively affects driving. Combine the two and they make the risk of an accident even worse.

Preventing drowsy driving

In order to prevent drowsy driving get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you are too tired consider:

  • Getting a ride with someone
  • Pulling over to a safe location and take a nap in your car
  • Taking public transportation

If you are unable to get enough sleep or continue to be tired after sleeping all night you may have a sleep disorder.

Some disorders that cause you to be tired during the day include:

  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Restless Leg Syndrome


There are many effective ways of treating sleep disorders,
please see your health care provider if you think that you may have a sleep disorder
or are having trouble sleeping.

Consequences of drowsy driving

Driving when you have not had proper sleep could cause you to get into an accident, damaging your or someone else's property. You could injure yourself or others. In some serious accidents cause death. In some states, drowsy driving leads to time in jail. 

Knowing the signs and risk factors associated with drowsy driving will help you recognize when you or someone else should not be behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving is preventable, getting enough sleep is the best way to ensure your safety.