Drowsy Driving

People underestimate the dangers of drowsy driving, but driving while fighting the urge to sleep puts everyone on the road at risk. Sadly, a new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates drowsy driving is a factor in nearly one in six fatal crashes. As recently covered by the Good Morning America, CNN, USA Today, the New York Times and others, the AAA Foundation recently published a study showing that two out of five drivers surveyed (41 percent) admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point. In fact, just recently in Maryland two highway workers were killed by a drowsy driver in the middle of the day.

In recognition of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, the AAA Foundation is calling attention to the serious issue of driving drowsy. Just like drugs and alcohol, sleepiness can impair important functions behind the wheel like response time, awareness and judgment. Many people think they can force themselves to stay awake, but science shows us that isn’t always the case, and dozing off behind the wheel, even for a few seconds, is plenty of time to drive off of the road or over a centerline.

AAA offers some helpful tips from the Foundation’s brochure, How To Avoid Drowsy Driving, include:
• Get plenty of sleep (at least six hours) before a long trip;
• Travel at times when you are normally awake or stay overnight rather than driving;
• Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles;
• Stop driving if you become sleepy;
• Do not plan to work all day and then drive all night;
• Drink a caffeinated beverage;
• Avoid driving during sleepy times of day; and
• Travel with an awake passenger