Drowsy driving causes more fatal accidents than reported

Drowsy driving causes more fatal accidents than reported

How often do you drive when you’re tired? We’re warned about the deadly effects of drinking and driving, yet we continue to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle while we’re drowsy and operate it as if we’re fine.

As a result, 21 percent of all fatal vehicle accidents occur due to drowsy drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 100,000 crashes occur each year with 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries at the hands of sleepy drivers. This data comes from when a driver admits to being tired at the wheel.

Unfortunately, even the NHTSA admits that accidents caused by drowsy driving is highly underreported due to those involved failing to tell the police the truth.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety decided to do its own study in an attempt to find a more accurate percentage. Focusing on accidents from 2009 to 2013, AAA used a representative sample of 21,292 crashes where at least one vehicle was towed and investigated through a data collection system from the NHTSA to determine driver attentiveness. This analysis included 25,528 drivers.

When aggregated to the different levels of crashes, the data yielded startling results. Six percent of all crashes are caused by driving drowsy. More than 20 percent of all fatal accidents are connected to a drowsy driver.

Earlier this year, comedian Tracy Morgan’s bus was hit as a result of a tired truck driver. Kevin Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours when his truck was barreling down the New Jersey Turnpike early in the morning. By the time he noticed traffic slowing down, it was too late. One person was killed and four others, including Morgan, were injured in the six-car accident.

The growing demand for transported goods and lack of CDL truck drivers poses significant risks for other vehicles on the road. Laws are in place to keep truckers from driving too many hours consecutively, but fatal truck accidents still happen. More than 80 percent of the time, multiple vehicles are involved. In fact, while car accident rates around the United States are going down, truck accidents are on the rise.

Next time you’re tired and think you can handle the drive, think twice. If you’re on the road, try and remember the last bit of road you traveled, if you missed familiar signs or if you’re blinking and rubbing your heavy eyes frequently. If you answer yes to these questions, it’s time to pull over.

If you do decide to drive, here are some tips to make the drive safer:

  • Bring and drink a caffeinated beverage. After 30 minutes, you should begin to feel more alert.
  • Invite a friend to ride with you. This passenger provides conversation and can even offer to drive if you become too tired.
  • Find a safe area, park your car and take a short nap. Sleeping less than 20 minutes improves alertness and you feel less groggy.

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