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Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that each year drowsy driving causes at least 328,000 motor vehicle accidents.

Many of these crashes–at least 6,400 each year–are fatal. No one is safe when you drive drowsy.

Teens are especially at risk. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are 80% more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash than adults who are 40 or older.

Signs of Drowsy Driving

There is no drowsiness test to measure how sleepy you feel. And research shows that we often overestimate our level of alertness. There are, however, things to watch for:

  • Yawning constantly
  • Inability to keep your eyes open
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Nodding off
  • Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Inability to remember the last few miles
  • Getting too close to cars in front of you
  • Missing road signs
  • Driving past turns
  • Drifting onto the "rumble strip" or shoulder of the road

Tricks Don't Work

Turning the radio up or rolling down the windows may help for a few minutes if you are drowsy, but will not keep you from falling asleep behind the wheel.

Prevent Drowsy Driving

  • Plan ahead and take a nap before driving late at night.
  • Have some caffeine and then wait 30 minutes for it to take effect.
  • Take a taxi or bus, or call home for a ride.
  • Switch drivers if you can.
  • Pull over in a safe place and take a short nap.
  • Don't drive if you've taken medication that causes drowsiness, and never drink alcohol and drive.
Learn more about sleep medicine at St. Luke's