Drowsy driving statistics and facts


While we are all well aware of the dangers of texting and driving and drinking, many people don’t realize the dangers associated with drowsy driving. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 100,000 crashes each year, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. AAA estimates that 9.5% of all crashes are caused by drowsy driving.

The actual number could be higher, however, as it is hard to determine if a driver was asleep at the time of the crash. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Statistics on driving while tired

Drowsy driving is responsible for many accidents.

  • Drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 100,000 accidents on the roads each year, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths per annum (NSC).
  • Drowsy driving is responsible for 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% of airbag deployments (AAA).
  • Drunk driving is like alcohol-impaired driving. 18 hours of driving without sleep is comparable to a blood alcohol level (BAC) of.05% (CDC).
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How many times do you see people driving while asleep?

What happens when you feel drowsy while driving?

  • Most drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight to 6am, or later in the afternoon, when the body regulates sleep (NHTSA).
  • Drowsy driving accidents often involve one passenger running off the roadway (NHTSA).
  • Drunk driving accidents are more frequent on rural roads than highways (NHTSA).

What is drowsy driving and how can it be prevented?

Drowsy driving (also known as driver fatigue, tired driving) is when you drive or operate a motor vehicle while feeling tired, fatigued, or sleepy. Sleep deprivation can be caused by job stress, interrupted nights with young children, or other factors.

Drowsy driving can also be caused by untreated sleep disorders or medications. Third-shift workers and those working late-night shifts are especially affected by the natural release melatonin that occurs during dark hours, as they return home from a long day.

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Drowsy driving can lead to inability or delay in reaction times, poor judgement, poor judgment, inability and inability to judge distances, speeds and other effects.

Drowsy driving can have more serious consequences than people realize. The effects on the body of driving while awake for longer than 18 hours are the same as if your BAC was 0.0.05 percent. The CDC says that a BAC of 0.10% is equivalent to having a BAC after 24 hours. This is far higher than the legal limit for all states. Drowsy driving, which is 0.08 percent in legal blood alcohol content, is very similar to drinking.

Certain groups are more prone to falling asleep while driving at night. This group is more susceptible to accidents related to drowsy-driving, as more accidents occur in the middle of afternoon.

Statistics on Drowsy Driving 2021

Drowsy driving is a common problem in America today. However, it can be hard to determine the exact number of accidents caused by drowsy drivers.

Drivers openly admit that they drive when tired and motivated by family, work, or social pressures. In a survey of over 3,500 drivers, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that drowsiness contributed to up to 9.5% of all crashes and 10.81% of crashes that involved airbag deployment, injury, or significant property damage.

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Is it common to drive drowsy?

An interesting insight was revealed by the CDC’s study on almost 150,000 adult drivers in 19 states and Washington, D.C. In the past 30 days, 4 percent of adult drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. Drivers who slept less than 6 hours per night or were subjected to snoring were more likely to drift asleep while driving. One in twenty-five drivers aged 18 or older has fallen asleep in the past 30 days.

The NHTSA has the most current data on drowsy driving. They report the main factors that lead to fatal crashes.

The world is moving faster than ever today, thanks to digital development. We can move faster and sleep less. Poor sleep is a common problem, with 25 percent of U.S. adults suffering from insufficient sleep and rest each night.

Over the past 30 years, Americans have seen a significant decrease in their sleep and rest. The chances of being a short-sleeper, meaning someone who sleeps less then six hours per night, has increased dramatically.

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AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered in 2019 that a majority of Americans disapprove of drowsy driving. Nearly 96 percent identified the trend as very dangerous, while more than 97 per cent disapprove.

These findings are echoed by surveys done by the National Sleep Foundation, with U.S. drivers expressing similar sentiments. According to the report, about half of Americans admit to driving when they feel tired and 20% admit to falling asleep in the past year.

American drivers may know that driving while tired is dangerous, but less than 30% believe that drivers are tired. Only 24% of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel within the past month. This stark contradiction is a strong statement about driver attitudes and driver behavior. It undoubtedly contributes to the increasing number of accidents that are attributed to drowsy drivers each year.

Risk factors for sleepiness

There are some risk factors that can be used against tired drivers. This could increase your chances of being involved in an accident due to drowsy driving.

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Driving while tired is a sign of age

Drowsy driving can be experienced by all ages, but it is more common for those aged 46-64. In fact, 42 percent of respondents reported ever being drowsy behind the wheel. All age groups answered the same when asked if they had nodded off during the past week. However, respondents aged 21 to 29 were twice as likely than other age groups that they had nodded off while behind the wheel.

Driving while tired based on gender

The tendency to drive drowsy is slightly more male with 46 percent of males having ever gotten to sleep while driving, compared to 26 percent for females.

Drunk driving at night

Drowsy driving occurs more often at night, it is not surprising. Nearly half of all episodes of drowsy driving occur between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, 26% of respondents stated that they have fallen asleep while driving between noon or 5 p.m. It is crucial to remember the dangers of driving while tired, even during daytime.

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Driving long distances can cause sleepiness.

You may believe that drivers will drift off if they drive for longer than one hour. Surprisingly, 30% of drivers report falling asleep during a shorter drive than an hour.

Signs of driver fatigue

You should not drive until you are more rested. Driver fatigue can not always be visible in the same way, so it may not always be obvious.

These are the key warning signs for drowsy driving:

  • It’s difficult to keep your eyes on the right thing.
  • It is impossible to keep your eyes open while blinking.
  • The sensation of being weighed down suddenly hits your head.

These symptoms can be dangerous due to their common nature. However, it is important that you don’t ignore your body’s warning signs that it is tired.

Which are the most at-risk groups when it comes to drowsy driving

While anyone can experience drowsy driving, it is more common in certain groups. The following drivers are more at risk for drowsy driving:

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Inexperienced and young drivers

Young drivers and teens have less experience driving, which means they are less skilled behind the wheel. Younger drivers are more likely to drive late for work or other social reasons, which makes them more vulnerable to falling asleep while driving.

Shift workers, and those who work long hours

Night workers and shift workers often work long hours and are exhausted when it is time to go home. Although a long drive home is not something they want, many people still make the effort to get to work every day. People who work night shifts, rotating or double shifts are six times more likely to be drowsy than those who work other types of jobs. Doctors, pilots and police officers are some of the professionals who work long hours.

Commercial drivers

People who drive for a living travel more than average commuters. Due to the long hours and tight deadlines commercial drivers have, they are at greater risk of becoming sleepy.

Business travellers

People who frequently travel across the country for work are more at risk of becoming drowsy drivers. They are often exposed to jet lag and are subject to changing time zones as well as ZIP codes. It can be difficult to get enough sleep if you travel a lot for work.

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People who have sleep problems

Drivers with sleep disorders can find it difficult to drive safely and drowsy. Drivers with narcolepsy and insomnia can feel tired and depleted during the day. Those with untreated obstructive sleeping apnea (OSA), are more susceptible to drowsy driving. Other medications can make drivers tired and unable to concentrate behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving can have serious consequences

Drowsy driving has the highest cost, with a human toll of over 100,000 per year. Future accidents can be easily avoided by making small efforts.

Drowsy driving can have serious consequences. Even if you are able to survive an accident, there is a chance that you will still suffer serious injuries that could need months or even years-long medical attention. Long-lasting cognitive and/or physical impairments could affect your performance as well as your physical health.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in an August 2016 report, estimated that $109 billion is the annual societal loss from drowsy driving. The study also notes that property damage is not included in this cost.

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State laws regarding driving while you are asleep

Only two states, Arkansas and New Jersey, have passed legislation in 2021 that explicitly acknowledges drowsy drivers. These laws are in effect when a drowsy driver causes an injury or death.

New Jersey’s law considers drowsy driving reckless driving. Anyone operating a motor vehicle while asleep for less than 24 hours is subject to the same charges as intoxicated drivers. Drivers should take seriously the consequences of drunk driving, as well as the law.

State Awareness Initiatives

States like New York, Ohio, and Utah continue to commission studies in order to find the best ways to increase drowsiness on state roads. To educate motorists about the dangers of drunk driving, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning publishes the Michigan Traffic Crash Statistics every year.

Drivers who have untreated sleep disorders can apply for a special driver’s licence in California, Connecticut Florida, Iowa, Maine.

Car insurance: How do you feel if you are driving drowsy?

In most states there is no law against driving while you are asleep. This means that car insurance premiums do not usually suffer. If there isn’t a violation, you won’t be punished.

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Drowsy driving can be treated as reckless driving. However, drivers may receive a ticket which could affect their car insurance premiums. This will appear on their driving record when they shop to purchase a new policy . Rates can be affected by accidents caused by drowsy drivers.

Many factors can impact your insurance premium. These include location, age and driving records.

You can get the best car insurance rates by comparing coverage and checking rates from different providers.

How to avoid drowsy driving

Although we’ve all felt tired behind the wheel of a car, these tips can help us stay awake and safe no matter what time it is.

  • Healthy sleeping habits are important.
    Sleeping enough is the best defense against drowsy drivers. You can ensure that you get enough sleep if you work shifts. Make sure you have a schedule for each day. Adults should get at least seven hours sleep per night, while teens should get at least eight. When you know that there will be a long journey ahead, rest is even more important.
  • A power nap for 10 minutes.
    Even if you only have a few minutes to rest, it can make a huge difference to your ability to drive safely and remain awake for the rest of the trip. For a quick nap, rest stops and well-lit parking spaces are great options.
  • Ask for help.
    Asking for help is okay. For possible solutions to your sleeping problems, consult a doctor.
  • Organise a carpool.
    Driving to work is the most likely time to be drowsy. Traveling with a friend, family member, or coworker can help you beat fatigue. You can also help your commuter companion by watching out for fatigue signs, and even driving if necessary.
  • Take care of your medication.
    Some medications can make you tired, even if you’re well rested. Ask your doctor about possible side effects and make sure you read labels before you take any medication. Avoid driving while taking your medication. Instead, take it later.
  • Some stimuli can be added.
    You can open a window to get some fresh air. Or, you can turn on the A/C for an extra boost of energy. If you find yourself falling asleep, the sound and smell of the air can help you stay awake.
  • Find entertainment.
    There are many ways to keep yourself busy on a lonely, long road. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts before you set out on the long, lonely road. You might prefer music if you have a favorite track or a new album by an upcoming artist.
  • Plan driving times.
    You can be selective about when you drive if you have the time. Plan your trip around what time you’d normally be asleep to ensure that your internal clock doesn’t interfere with your ability to focus while driving.
  • Avoid alcohol.
    Drinking even a small amount of alcohol can cause you to feel sleepy while driving. Although caffeine can be useful as a stimulant, it is best for short-term use. It will not last you long.
  • Always use your seat belt.
    The use of a seat belt has been proven to save lives every day on the roads. You can protect yourself and your passengers by wearing a seat belt every time you go on the road.