Driving while drowsy can be incredibly dangerous, and the effects can be similar to driving while intoxicated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that an estimated 100,000 accidents are caused by driver fatigue every year.
Fatigue has costly effects on the safety, health, and quality of life of the American public. Whether fatigue is caused
by sleep restriction due to a new baby waking every couple of hours, a late or long shift at work, hanging out
late with friends, or a long and monotonous drive for the holidays – the negative outcomes can be the same.
These include impaired cognition and performance, motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents, and health
consequences. Addressing these issues can be difficult when our values frequently do not align with avoiding
drowsy driving. In a 24/7 society, with an emphasis on work, longer commutes, and exponential advancement
of technology, many people do not get the sleep they need.
Effectively dealing with the drowsy-driving problem requires fundamental changes to societal norms and
especially attitudes about drowsy driving. Drowsy-driving crashes can happen any time, but most
frequently occur at night in the early pre-dawn hours or in the mid-afternoon. Age also plays a significant factor.
Research conducted in 2012 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that crash-involved drivers 16 to 24
years old were nearly twice as likely to be drowsy at the time of the crash compared to drivers 40 to 59 years old.
Drivers 24 and younger were most likely to report having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. These results are
consistent with multiple independent studies on this topic.
For more information, visit Asleep at the Wheel: A National Compendium of Efforts to Eliminate Drowsy Driving