USA Today recently reported that drowsy driving causes more than 5,500 traffic deaths a year and is a factor in nearly 17% of all fatal crashes – a much higher toll than previously estimated, according to a new analysis of federal data.

The analysis from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 1999 through 2008 finds a much higher prevalence of drowsy driving in deadly crashes than earlier studies.  A 1994 analysis found it was a factor in just 3.6% of fatal crashes, and NHTSA says it plays a role in 2% – 3% each year.

Clearly there is no question that drowsy driving is dangerous.  If you are tired, you should pull over immediately. 

Solve the Problem of Drowsy Driving

Reconsider your options before getting behind a wheel:

  • Ask a friend for a ride or call a cab
  • If you’re arriving home from a business trip and feel too exhausted to drive find a ride and pick your car up from the airport the next day
  • If you are a late-night worker, consider taking public transportation to and from work

Think about your sleep schedule. Americans tend to be sleep-deprived. As a culture, we tend to prioritize getting the job done over our health and our sleep. The result is highways filled with drivers who did not sleep much the night before.

Schedule breaks

For commercial drivers or others on a long road trip, take a break every few hours. A short break or even a power nap can greatly help your alertness