Reviewing the results of drowsy driving

Many in Shelby may plan ahead to keep themselves from driving while intoxicated. With the added awareness dedicated to the dangers associated with texting and driving, several more are now putting their phones away while behind the wheel. Yet there is another dangerous driving practice that many to continue to engage in that presents an equal amount of risk: drowsy driving.

Few many realize it, yet driving while drowsy can cause one to experience impairments similar to those seen in people who are drunk (e.g., decreased awareness, slower reaction times). In fact, one might even argue that drowsy drivers present an even greater risk to their fellow motorists than drunk or distracted drivers. The logic behind such an argument is that few ever believe that they will fall asleep behind the wheel, and that if they do feel fatigued, simply rolling down the window or stopping for a cup of coffee will increase their alertness. Thus, they are willing to drive after only a few hours of sleep. 

The consequences of such a decision can be devastating. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 83,000 accidents between 2005 and 2009 occurred due to drowsy driving. The outcomes of those accidents are broken down as follows: 

  • 886 resulted in fatalities
  • 37,000 resulted in injuries
  • 45,000 resulted in property damage

A jarring collision is almost certain to wake one up, and one who had fallen asleep behind the wheel may be less than motivated to admit it. How, then, is one to know if drowsy driving was a factor in an accident? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that certain demographics are more likely to drive drowsy. These include truck drivers, people who work swing or graveyard shifts, or drivers on medication or dealing with sleep disorders. 

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