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Too Tired to Drive? How Fatigue behind the Wheel can be Deadly

'Maggio Law

How Common is Drowsy Driving?

Many people would never think about getting behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking. However, most people have driven while they were sleepy. Sixty percent of adults in America have admitted to driving while sleepy. Thirty percent of people have fallen asleep while driving.

Drowsy Driving and Accidents

Even if you are only mildly sleep-deprived, getting behind the wheel of a car can still be dangerous. Studies have shown that people who get six or seven hours of sleep have double the risk of getting into an accident. Drowsy drivers have a 3.5 times greater risk of being involved in a wreck.

The longer you are awake, the more likely you are to get into an accident. In fact, studies have shown that getting behind the wheel after staying up for 18 hours is equivalent to driving with a BAC of.05. Keep in mind that a BAC of.08 is considered intoxicated. If you are awake for 24 hours, then this is equivalent to driving with a BAC of 0.10.

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Us

Sleep deprivation is dangerous because it can decrease your alertness. It can also lead to memory problems and decreased ability to perform. Most drowsy driving accidents occur between the hours of 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. Most people are alone when they get into a drowsy driving accident. In fact, 82 percent of drowsy driving accidents involve single drivers.

Who is at Risk for Drowsy Driving?

Anyone is at risk for driving while drowsy. Even if you only have one sleepless night, you are still putting yourself at risk. However, there are some groups who are more likely to drive while drowsy than others. Teens and young adults have a greater chance of driving while drowsy.

Teens have to get up early for school, and 30 percent of them are not getting the proper amount of rest. People who have sleeping disorders are also more likely to drive while drowsy. In fact, 41 percent of people who drive while drowsy have a sleeping disorder.

Additionally, one’s occupation can put them at risk for driving while drowsy. Police officers, shift workers, commercial truck drivers, health care workers and business people are more likely to engage in drowsy driving.

Signs of Drowsy Driving

Inability to keep your eyes open, yawning frequently, missing road signs and driving at high speeds are signs of drowsy driving. In order to avoid driving while drowsy, you will need to get a good night’s rest. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, then you should stop in a safe area and take a nap. 

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