Driving While Drowsy: More Common Than You Think

Nov 8, 2013

In an effort to reduce accidents and fatalities on our roadways, this week has been designated Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, because apparently many of us have a hard time keeping our eyes open, when behind the wheel.

So how often have you taken a long drive, say for vacation or for a business trip, only to find that you’re not quite as alert as you’d hoped? Struggling to stay awake at times.

Well, you’re not alone. Apparently one in four  motorists reports having a DROWSY DRIVING episode, meaning they were either too fatigued to drive, or fell asleep while driving. That’s according to the latest research by the Triple A (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Just last year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported more than 3,000 crashes on state roadways as a result of drowsy driving - with 21 of those crashes resulting in a fatality. Tammy Gobert is with Triple A-MidAtlantic.

“What’s even more shocking is like other dangerous driving behaviors like distracted driving or driving impaired, a lot of people think it is dangerous, 95% think it’s dangerous, yet 41% decide to do it anyway.”

The key is to know some of the warning signs, which aren’t as obvious as you might think.

“Some of those warning signs are the inability to recall the miles traveled, maybe having disconnected or wandering thoughts, having trouble focusing and keeping eyes open, missing traffic signs.”

Aside from the obvious “get enough rest” and “get enough sleep” suggestions, Triple A has a few other recommendations such as stopping every two hours, avoiding heavy foods, and keeping  track of medications you’re taking.

“A lot of people don’t think about this, but think about the medications that you took the night before. Something as simple as cold and allergy medicine, to make sure those aren’t going to affect you.”

Gobert also suggests that if you do pull over and take a break, make sure you do so in a well-lit location or at a place of business.