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What Is Drowsy Driving?
The National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving can happen any time a driver feels drowsy, tired, exhausted or fatigued behind the wheel. It has serious health effects, similar to those that happen when you drink alcohol.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 7% of all traffic accidents and 16.5% of all fatal traffic accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. A lack of sleep can make it more difficult to concentrate while driving and has been proven to impair judgment and your overall level of alertness.
Drowsy Driving Fatalities
Drowsy driving caused 3,666 fatal accidents in the United States between 2012 and 2016. Just how common is drowsy driving? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 drivers have fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. That’s not even counting the number of people who have driven while feeling sleepy or fatigued yet managed to stay awake.
A shocking 23.9% (876) of fatal traffic accidents caused by drowsy driving took place in Texas.
Here are the top five states with the most fatal traffic accidents caused by a drowsy driver between 2012 and 2016:
- Texas: 23.9%
- California: 6.06%
- Alabama: 5.02%
- Colorado: 3.74%
- Virginia: 2.89%
Sixteen out of the top 30 counties with the most deadly crashes caused by drowsy driving in the U.S. were in Texas.
When analyzing this data, something we found interesting was that the number of traffic deaths caused by drowsy driving wasn’t necessarily in the highest population centers. Of the top 30 most populous counties in the U.S., only nine were found on the list of the 30 counties with the most fatal traffic crashes.
Ways To Prevent Drowsy Driving
Before we get behind the wheel, there are several things individuals can do to prevent drowsy driving.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel as it can increase drowsiness.
- Don’t take any medication before driving unless you’re thoroughly aware of the side effects.
- If you suffer from a sleep disorder, consult with your physician to make sure it’s OK for you to drive.
- Work to get the recommended amount of sleep each night to avoid sleep deprivation. An alert mind is one of the best ways to prevent drowsy driving. A comfortable mattress will help you get that solid rest, so make sure your bed isn’t what’s keeping you awake.
- Before going on a long road trip or spending extended time in the car, make sure you’ve gotten a good night’s rest or have another person in the car who can drive when you get tired.
If you feel yourself starting to get drowsy but you’re not your destination, there are a couple of things you can do. You can stop at a gas station or restaurant and purchase coffee or another food/beverage with caffeine to perk you up (you can check out how a “coffee nap” works, as well).
If possible, you can also pull over in a safe area and take a nap. Consider taking a 10-30 minute nap before continuing on. Sleeping for an hour may mean you’re waking from your nap in the deep sleep part of your sleep cycle. This can leave you groggy which is not ideal when driving.
Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.
He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.
Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.
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