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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
NOV 17, 2020
Driving While Drowsy is Dangerous!
About six percent of all crashes, and 21 percent of fatal crashes, involve tired drivers. In fact, a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 328,000 drowsy-driving crashes occur annually. That's more than three times the police-reported number referenced by the NHTSA. The same study found that 109,000 of those drowsy-driving crashes resulted in an injury, and about 6,400 were fatal. The research suggests the prevalence of drowsy-driving fatalities is more than 350 percent greater than what is reported.
According to the NSC, fatigue makes safe driving very difficult:
Reaction time, awareness of hazards, and ability to sustain attention all worsen the drowsier the driver is.
Driving after more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent – the U.S. legal limit.
Drivers are three times more likely to be in a car crash if fatigued.
Self-Diagnosis for Tired Drivers
How do you evaluate driver fatigue? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the following are signs of drowsy drivers:
Frequent yawning or difficulty keeping your eyes open.
"Nodding off" or having trouble keeping your head up.
Inability to remember driving the last few miles.
Missing road signs or turns.
Difficulty maintaining a consistent speed.
Drifting out of your lane.
Other factors that contribute to the possibility of fatigued driving include:
Driving on less than seven hours of sleep.
Driving at a time when usually sleeping, such as at night.
Traveling frequently through different time zones.
Having an untreated sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Working multiple shifts or night shifts.
Interventions Can Help
Employers with employees who work multiple shifts, night shifts, or drive during the night, should have a proactive safe driving program that educates employees about the warning signs of the fatigued, and stresses the importance of getting off the road when they occur. These safety programs also can cover other risk factors that contribute to driving while drowsy so employees can take charge of managing their own schedules to get enough sleep (at least seven hours per night).
When it comes to driving while drowsy, it pays to recognize the dangerous behaviors associated with it and the interventions that help. But remember, nothing works better than a good night’s sleep of at least seven hours before getting behind the wheel. Safe travels!