April, 2023 | Boizelle Insurance Partnership

The Biggest Distraction While Driving May Not Be What You Think

You may think that just because you’re not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, you are safe to drive. While drinking or operating a motor vehicle after having consumed drugs is extremely dangerous, driving when you’re sleepy is also risky.

When you’re tired, your judgment is impaired. Such instances as slow reaction times, drifting from lane to lane, driving at dangerous fast or even slow speeds…this only puts you and others around you in more danger.

Every year, it is reported that drivers are involved in thousands of crashes related to drowsiness. While these incidents cost billions of dollars in damages and medical expenses, some of these incidents turn tragic, resulting in loss of life. Here’s what you can do to help prevent yourself from being involved in such a terrible situation.

In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that drowsy drivers caused 91,000 reported accidents to the police. Even more, in 2019, drowsy driving caused nearly 700 deaths.

According the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, being awake for 18 hours straight is the same as having a blood alcohol level of .05%. And being awake for 24 hours straight bumps that number all the way up to .1. The legal blood alcohol content level in most states is .08. And while it’s not illegal to drive while drowsy, if you do so, you are still putting yourself and other drivers on the road at serious risk of harm. Finally, the CDC reports that people who slept 6 hours or less each day were more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s also true, however, that certain factors make it more likely for an incident like this to occur.

Crashes due to drowsy-driving occur most frequently between midnight and 6:00 AM—or in the late afternoon. This makes sense since this is also the time of day when our circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleeping patterns, falls.

Believe it or not, people driving alone are more likely to be involved in these kinds of crashes. Another finding is that these kinds of accidents typically involve the driver run their car off the road at high speeds without braking.

Rural roads and highways are the areas in which these types of accidents mostly occur.

According to the Sleep Foundation, symptoms of drowsy driving include daydreaming, realizing that you can’t remember the last several miles you traveled, missing a sign or an exit, tailgating, problems maintaining the speed limit, and restlessness, irritability, or aggressiveness.

If you want to avoid drowsy driving, there are a number of actions or measures you can take. First, get enough sleep. That’s pretty clear. If you’re planning a road trip, be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Alcohol consumption before or during driving a car is a big “no-no” and it’s illegal. Most everyone is already aware of this. What some people may pay less attention to is driving while under the influence of medications. Be sure to read the labels of your prescription bottles and consult your doctor before you decide to drive your car. Some medications may contribute to side effects that include sleepiness or drowsiness.

Read more