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The Problem of Drowsy Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults report sleeping less than seven hours a day, considered the benchmark for good health and well-being. Drowsy driving occurs when drivers take the wheel despite experiencing feelings of sleepiness and fatigue.

But drowsy driving is not only a result of lack of sleep. Drowsy driving can be brought on by items such as untreated sleep disorders, alcohol consumption, taking medications and the disruption on one’s body clock, often triggered by shift work.

In Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, the Governors Highway Safety Administration reports nearly 83.6 million sleep-deprived Americans can be found on a typical day in the workplace, at school and on the road.

The consequences can be deadly.

What Employers Need to Know

More than 5,000 people died in drowsy driving-related crashes in 2015. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the estimated annual societal cost of fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes is $109 billion, not including property damage.

Employers pay for crashes that occur on and off the job in a variety of ways, such as health, life and disability payments, sick leave, contributions to workers’ compensation programs, medical and liability insurance.

Texas Drowsy Driving

In 2017, drivers who were fatigued or asleep at the wheel contributed to 9,704 crashes in Texas — more than 26 every day — according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The results of these drowsy driving incidents are eye-opening:

  • 160 fatal crashes
  • 582 suspected serious crashes
  • 1,643 non-incapacitating crashes

What Can Be Done to Address This Issue

Drowsiness can impact basic behind-the-wheel skills such as:

  • Attention span
  • Reaction time
  • Judgment

Some vehicles today are equipped with technology that can detect when a driver is about to nod off and deliver a warning signal. The best advice is to learn the signs of drowsiness – head-bobbing, yawning, etc. You are still your vehicle’s best safety feature. If you’re tired, pull over. Three more ideas to share at your workplace:

  • Take a nap (20 minutes of sleep can alleviate feelings of drowsiness, at least temporarily)
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage (coffee or cola)
  • Schedule travel breaks (use this map to locate a Texas rest area)

More about drowsy driving …