You'll want to stay awake for this
You already know the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving. But there is a third "d" that gets little attention: drowsy driving. Unfortunately, fatigue turns out to be just as devastating as intoxication and distraction when it comes to the cause of serious motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes 8,000 fatalities every year. The NHTSA is the federal agency that monitors and tracks road safety in the U.S.
It began a national PSA on the first day of spring to increase awareness of this issue. The number of vehicles on the road tends to increase in summer months, meaning that fatigued driving could play a larger role in accident risk than in the winter months, particularly on long summer days.
Fatigue is a frequent factor in car accidents
Most of us have experienced driving while a little tired at some point. It can be easy to dismiss the affects of fatigue on our driving ability. Similarly to intoxication, fatigued driving can make it difficult to exercise good judgment. In some cases, you may not even realize how tired you are prior to getting behind the wheel.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatigue makes drivers:
- More easily distracted
- Have a slower reaction time
- Influences ability to make good decisions
If you are tired and find yourself doing any of the following, it might be wise to pull over:
- "Spacing out" or not remembering the last few miles driven
- Missing an exit or turn
- Frequently needing to blink
Make good plans and don't be afraid to pull over
If you know you will be tired, it is a good idea to have an alternative to driving yourself available. For example, using a taxi, bus or rideshare from the airport after a flight. In addition, if you are tired, it is a good idea to pull over. A cup of coffee, some exercise and even a short nap can mean the difference between an accident and just being a little later than you expected.