GREENSBORO, N.C. — Drowsy driving is a major problem in the United States.
It's the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue.
According to the CDC, drowsy driving usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen because of untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, or shift work.
The latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report shows drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.
Statistics also show up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.
Some of the warning signs of drowsy driving include:
- Yawning or blinking frequently.
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven.
- Missing your exit.
- Drifting from your lane.
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.
Drivers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to experience the dangers of drowsy driving, such as:
- Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses.
- Shift workers (who work the night shift or long shifts).
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
- Drivers who use medications that make them sleepy.
- If you notice the warning signs of drowsy driving while driving, pull over to a safe place and take a 15-20 minute nap or change drivers.
The CDC offers the following drowsy driving prevention tips:
- Get enough sleep. Adults need 7 hours and teens need at least 8 hours.
- Develop good sleeping habits such as sticking to a sleep schedule.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you sleepy. Check the labels.
- Talk to your doctor about treatment options if you have a sleep disorder or symptoms, such as snoring.
For more information about drowsy driving, click here.