The Dangers of Drowsy Driving (and What It’s Costing the Country)

This post was kindly written for us by Lisa Smalls (

With 35% of Americans not getting at least the minimum recommended seven hours of sleep each night, driver fatigue is becoming more common. In fact, driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of car accidents each year.


In 2013 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported about “72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries” and a re-evaluated count of up to 6,000 fatal crashes. A 2015 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that about 5,000 people died from driving-drowsy. The following year their report noted the economic impact (not including property damage) of drowsy driving accidents was $109-billion.


These are incredible statistics especially considering that drowsy-driving is preventable. Each year, tens-of-thousands of people are affected by drowsy driving taking a personal, emotional, and economic toll on those directly impacted and the country. So, what can be done?


Causes of Drowsy Driving


Driver fatigue is more common than you may think. In fact, more than 40% of drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel sometime in their driving career.


Whether you are a commercial driver whose life depends on driving or a daily commuter it is likely that you have either fallen asleep at the wheel or driven drowsy sometime in your life. Regardless of how much you drive, the concerns about driving drowsy is that no one knows the moment when your body will fall asleep. But, being drowsy carries its own risks such as lack of focus, slower reaction time, and poor decision-making skills, all of which can lead to accident, injury, and even death.




It is important to note that drowsy driving and the adverse outcomes associated with them are preventable. A quality night's rest of seven to eight interrupted hours before driving will limit the likelihood of an accident occurring.


If you plan on driving at the end of the night, avoid consuming alcohol as this increases sleepiness. If you feel drowsy, pull over at a rest stop (or the side of the road, if you can safely due so) and take a nap. Putting the window down for air or turning the volume up on the radio does little to help prevent an accident. If you plan on taking a long road trip, avoid driving alone or plan to break the drive up into parts.

Know when to say, “No.”


Sometimes you just have to understand that you shouldn’t be driving. If you are yawning, blinking a lot, missing turns or exits, or frequently driving on the rumble bar you are likely too fatigued to drive. If you feel fatigued you can call an Uber, carpool, pull over and stop driving, or swap drivers.


Driving drowsy can have serious consequences. If you’ve ever been injured from a driving accident caused by drowsy-driving, contact us at Hands Law.