CDC report reveals frequency of drowsy driving in US
When behind the wheel – particularly when traveling long distances – it is not uncommon for drivers to experience exhaustion. The lull of the engine and hours focusing on the road ahead can easily lead to fatigue. While these symptoms may seem commonplace and not raise concern among many drivers, recent statistics have shown that drowsy driving is a dangerous phenomenon on roads in South Carolina and across the country.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 2.5 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. are caused by drowsy drivers. In addition, around 2 percent of all auto accidents that lead to personal injuries involve a fatigued driver.
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests those estimates may be low. The CDC surveyed over 147,000 drivers across the country. Of those, over 4 percent admitted they had fallen asleep while behind the wheel on at least one occasion during the prior month.
The CDC report found certain groups of people were more likely to fall asleep while driving. For instance, men were more likely to drive drowsy than women. In addition, the survey found that younger drivers were more likely to drive when fatigued than older motorists.
As some estimates indicate drowsy drivers cause 5,000 to 6,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents annually, it is wise for motorists to take certain steps to ensure they are alert while on the road.
Take precautions to prevent drowsy driving accidents
According to the National Institutions of Health, drivers are most likely to be rested if they have slept for seven to eight hours the night before. Younger drivers may require even more sleep to avoid fatigued driving – often between nine or 10 hours.
Apart from getting a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel, drivers should also abstain from consuming alcohol or taking medication that causes drowsiness. In addition, drivers who suffer from various sleep disorders – such as sleep apnea – should obtain medical treatment to ensure they are alert enough to drive safely.
Drivers and passengers should be aware of the common symptoms associated with sleep deprivation. Motorists who have not gotten enough sleep will generally:
- Have trouble remembering the last couple miles they have driven
- Miss traffic signals or an exit
- Drift into other lanes or onto the shoulder
- Blink repeatedly
When a driver or passenger notices these symptoms, it is best for the driver to pull over to rest or allow a more alert passenger to get behind the wheel.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drowsy driver, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.