37% of Drivers Experience Crashes, or Near Crashes from Falling Asleep At the Wheel

According to the latest American Express Spending and Savings Tracker, 33% of American vacationers will choose road trips over plane trips in order to save money on their vacation this summer.

And with more drivers on the road, many of them driving long hours to get to their destination, the number of accidents due to driver fatigue will increase.

Facts about Drowsy Driving:  (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin)

  • 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year.
  • 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and
  • 12.5 billion in monetary loss.
  • Young men and shift workers are the highest risk
  • People with untreated sleep apnea syndrome and narcolepsy are also high risk
  • Nationally, the nighttime fatal crash rate considerably exceeds the daytime rate.
  • The fatal crash rate between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. is tenfold that of the period between 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Drowsy driving is another form of distracted driving – drivers experiencing drowsiness do not apply their full attention to the driving task. Driving requires a person to be alert of their actions and surroundings at all times.  Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination.  Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as fatal.
Sleepiness or Fatigue Causes the Following:

  • Impaired reaction time, judgment and vision
  • Problems with information processing and short-term memory
  • Decreased performance, vigilance and motivation
  • Increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors

Tips to avoid falling asleep at the wheel

National Statistics

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel!  In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month.  Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have experienced a crash or near-miss crash because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.

Tips to Prevent Drowsy Driving:

  • Schedule your drive time:   Plan out your trip ahead of time so you know where the best places are to stop for gas, food, and rest.  Stop every two hours or 100 miles.
  • Make frequent stops: Plan on stopping at least every two hours to get out of the car, walk around, stretch, and get some fresh air and food or drink.
  • Don’t drive at night: Nighttime is a more dangerous time to drive, period, with decreased visibility as one factor.  Fatalities from crashes at night are 10 times what the daytime rate is.  Don’t take that chance.
  • Don’t drive alone: Make sure you have another driver to help.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep prior to starting your trip: Most experts suggest 7-9 hours for optimal rest.

About Valley Sleep Center

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center is the Valley’s expert in sleep-related issues.  They have provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their physicians are Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists and they are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They provide diagnostic testing for a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.

For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900 or visit www.valleysleepcenter.com