The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2017 that for police-reported crashes, drowsy driving appeared to be a factor over just 1% of incidents. However, a recent analysis of more than 700 crashes conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drowsiness was a factor in nearly 10% of vehicle crashes and it was a factor in 11% of those crashes that caused critical property damage.
Sleepy driving is more than just yawning while you’re behind the wheel- it’s an actual loss of your focus that could lead to a devastating wreck.
Many people are hesitant about reporting drowsiness to a police officer at the scene of an accident which could explain the discrepancy between the government results and the AAA study. Police officers have very few ways to determine whether or not drowsiness was a factor but the AAA study looked at three minutes of video of drivers’ faces leading up to the accidents and used a gauge to identify whether or not the diver was sleepy at the time. Sleepy driving accidents can contribute to significant injuries and even fatalities. In 2016, drowsy driving was believed to be responsible for more than 37,000 fatalities across the country, the latest year for which figures were available.
Although it is recommended that adults get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep for every single night before they get behind the wheel of a car, just over one-third of Americans report getting that much sleep or more. This cultural issue may cause sleepy driving to continue to be a serious problem across the country.