Driving while drowsy is a huge problem in Indiana and throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in any 30-day period, 1 in every 25 adult drivers reports they have fallen asleep while driving. It is estimated that drowsy driving is responsible for over 70,000 crashes each year. Lack of asleep can affect the driver’s ability to stop suddenly, to make good decisions and to pay attention to the road.
The National Sleep Foundation points out that the consequences of drowsy driving are like those of drunk driving. This is because the effects of lack of sleep closely mimic the effects of drinking alcohol. Someone who has been awake for 18 hours or more will drive as if they have a .05 blood alcohol level. A driver who has been awake for more than 24 hours would have a blood alcohol level close to .10.
Many passengers and drivers may have no clue that driving drowsy can have similar consequences to driving under the influence of alcohol. Some drivers are more likely to drive while tired, including the following:
- Commercial drivers who drive busses, tractor trailers and tow trucks
- Shift workers
- Drivers with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
- Drivers on medication that makes them sleepy
There are signs that a driver is getting drowsy that all passengers can watch for. Tired drivers will blink and yawn frequently, have difficulty remembering the last few miles of the road, miss the exits, hit the rumble strips and even drift from their lanes. A driver who is tired can benefit from a quick 20-minute power nap and increase the safety of everyone on the road.