This is what happens when you drive drowsy:
1. Your reaction time is slower.
2. You’re paying less attention to your surroundings.
3. Your decision making is impaired.
Sounds a lot like driving drunk, right? It won’t get you a DUI, but it can certainly land you, and your fellow drivers, in dangerous situations.
So when you’re driving home late from fireworks, long beach days, and parties this 4th of July weekend, keep in mind that drinking isn’t the only reason you shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
In the annual report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just in time for Independence Day, health officials warn drivers against a bad habit that can be almost as dangerous as drunk driving.
According to the CDC, out of more than 33,000 fatal crashes annually, 7,500 fatal crashes in the United States each year involve drowsy drivers, compared to 10,322 fatalities due to alcohol-impaired driving.
“During the past 30 days, have you ever nodded off or fallen asleep, even just for a brief moment, while driving?’’
If you have, then you’re a drowsy driver. The CDC asked this question to more than 92,000 participants over the phone in 10 states, including Puerto Rico as a part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. More than 3,600 drivers in the sample reported falling asleep while driving during the past 30 days. (That’s more 4 percent.) Drivers who drove drowsy at least 14 of the past 30 days were defined as driving with “frequent insufficient sleep.’’
In addition to their drowsy driving habits, CDC survey also asked participants about their smoking, drinking, and seatbelt habits. The report cited a
Community Preventive Services Task Forcerecent study that revealed drivers who binge drink or infrequently use seatbelts were more likely to drive drowsy.
Young men are at the highest risk for these behaviors.
At 5 percent, men were more likely to drowsy drive than women (3 percent). Specifically in the 18 to 24 year old age group, 6.9 percent of men drove drowsy, while 3.5 percent of women drove drowsy. While 5.9 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 years old drove drowsy, 1.8 percent of people older than 65 years old the CDC surveyed admitted to the bad habit.
What’s the drowsy driving brink point?
Five hours or less of sleep per 24 hours. There’s a significant difference apparently between those who reported drowsy driving if they had five versus six or seven hours of sleep.
When’s a drowsy crash most likely to happen?
According to the CDC, drowsy crashes are most likely to happen when underslept people are most tired, during the midafternoon or at night. Usually, a driver will drive his or her car off the road, but drowsiness is “disproportionately represented in rear-end and head-on collisions.’’ There are also more injuries and fatalities in drowsy crashes. Drowsy driving crashes are also much more likely to result in injuries and fatalities than non-drowsy crashes.
How can you avoid drowsy driving?
Take a nap. Call a friend for a ride. Don’t drink and drive.