Driving Drowsy Can Ruin Your Holidays

Between marathon shopping trips, family gatherings, and office parties, drowsy driving is a big problem this time of year.

A study of investigations done by the National Transportation Safety Board found that fatigue was a factor in 40% of highway crashes.  Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving is implicated in approximately 16 percent of fatal crashes and approximately 13 percent of crashes requiring hospitalization (and these statistics are believed to be an underestimate of the problem). 

The National Sleep Foundation has identified warning signs for drowsy driving, which include:

  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing signs or exits
  • Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive
  • Turning up the radio or rolling down the window
  • Slower reaction time, poor judgment

If you find that you have any of these symptoms, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Switch drivers
  • Pull over and stop at a hotel or a friend’s house
  • Drink some caffeine (this is truly only a short-term solution)

The most important thing is to NOT try to drive through the drowsiness.  Also, if you know you’re going to be out late, plan ahead by trying to take a nap earlier in the day and plan to ride with someone who can share the driving.