In late 2014, the AAA Foundation released an updated study on the topic of drowsy driving. When researchers examined accident data from 2009 to 2013, they found that the number of fatal accidents caused by tired drivers had increased to 21 percent of all deadly crashes. That means that, according to the study, approximately 6,400 fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver each year in the United States. That is, on average, 17 or 18 lives lost daily because of a fatigued driver.
How to Keep Your Family Safe
The statistics aren’t meant to scare you, but instead inspire you to take actions to protect your family. Specifically, you can:
- Only drive when you are alert and rested. It could be a matter of life or death.
- Talk to your children, particularly your teens, about the dangers of drowsy driving. It is important for new drivers to be aware of the potential risks.
- Accept that caffeine, loud music, and open windows are not substitutes for sleep. They will not eliminate the risks of driving when you are tried.
- Recognize that other drivers commonly drive when they are tired; learn to be aware of the risk and drive defensively. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the other cars on the road.
- Be aware of how any medications effect you and avoid driving if a medication makes you tired. Driving under the influence of a medication that makes you tired can be as dangerous as driving without sleep.
- Make sleep and rest a priority if you are commuting to work, running errands, or taking a long trip. Drowsy driving accidents do not always happen on long trips. They can also happen on everyday rides such as those to work or to the grocery store.
- Speak up if you are a passenger in a car and the driver is showing signs of fatigue. Symptoms of drowsiness may include frequent blinking, rubbing of the eyes, and difficulty staying within the designated lane on the road, for example.
Additionally, you can educate others about the risk of drowsy driving. You can help raise awareness so that other drivers may think twice before getting behind the wheel while they are tired. To get started, please share this article on Facebook or via email with your friends and family so that, together, we can work toward preventing deadly drowsy driving accidents.