We all know that drowsy driving can be dangerous. Tiredness can make it difficult to focus, delay your reaction time or worst-case scenario, result in you falling asleep at the wheel.
Drowsy driving is responsible for thousands of car crashes and injuries each year. While anyone is capable of drowsy driving, certain groups of people are more susceptible to it:
- Young adults: It is estimated that about 70% of adults ages 18-29 have driven while sleepy, compared to about 50% of adults ages 30-64. Young adults also cause more drowsy driving accidents, despite them only representing approximately 25% of licensed drivers.
- Men: Men are a little more likely than women to drive while tired. They are also nearly twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
- Shift workers: This encompasses employees who work long or overnight hours. With their irregular schedules, they are more prone to traveling to and from work while sleepy.
- Commercial drivers: This includes people who drive buses, tow trucks and tractor-trailers. These drivers often work long shifts at varying times of the day.
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders: Undiagnosed sleep apnea can greatly increase your chances of falling asleep at the wheel. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up with a sore throat or headache and feeling tired throughout the day.
If you fall into one of these high-risk categories, it is especially important to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of drowsy driving. Some of these include:
- Missing a traffic sign or exit
- Swerving or tailgating
- Heavy eyelids or frequent yawning
- Daydreaming or difficulty focusing
If you find yourself experiencing one of these signs, you should take action. Pull over and rest. Grab a coffee. Open your windows and turn up your music. And most importantly, try to get at least eight hours of sleep to avoid these situations in the future.