Make safety a priority.
A drowsy driver is an unsafe driver. A lack of sleep negatively impacts performance. It slows reaction time, impairs judgement and situational awareness, increases lapses in attention and risk taking as well as the potential to micro sleep – literally dozing off for a few seconds while driving (National Safety Council [NSC], 2016; Czeisler & Baldino, 2015; Rosekind, 2012). To compound the problem, being tired impairs our ability to judge just how tired we really are. While one in four motorists has admitted to driving at least once during the past month when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open drowsy driving(Arnold & Tefft, 2015), is that self-reported assessment truly accurate?
The decision to get behind the wheel or stay on the road despite feeling drowsy can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2009 to 2013 there were more than 72,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers, injuring more than an estimated 41,000 people and killing more than 800 (National Center for Statistics and Analysis [NCSA], 2011). However, there is agreement that drowsy driving is significantly underreported. An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA Foundation) analysis of data from NHTSA’s NASS Crashworthiness Data System estimates that 7% of all crashes and 16.5% of fatal crashes involved drowsy driving (Tefft, 2014). That translates to more than 5,000 people dying in drowsy-driving crashes last year.