Accidents happen for so many reasons, and often multiple factors are at play in the incident. One that has been garnering more attention over the years is drowsy driving. While it is nothing new, it is a growing problem as Americans are lacking sufficient sleep more than ever. From overscheduled calendars to increased screen time, daily life is stealing hours of slumber left and right.
Workers with long shifts or night shifts have a high risk, but no one is exempt from falling asleep at the wheel. In fact, Greeley Tribune reports that a traffic safety contractor fell asleep while driving and sideswiped a school bus full of high school students, many who were injured in the collision.
Drowsy driving is responsible for taking thousands of lives and injuring many more, in addition to damaging property. It is the cause of almost one in 10 accidents, and the numbers may actually be higher because drowsy driving does not always make it onto the accident report. Teens and young adults have the highest rates, probably because they are notorious for staying up late.
Drowsy driving can happen in various situations. Some people like to pull long hours driving on a road trip, while truckers feel pressure to do so to meet deadlines. Other people suffer from chronic fatigue or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, and they may not even be aware that they have a health problem. Many drivers work long shifts every day with few days off.
Drowsy driving is preventable. Changes are already in place to help combat the problem, whereas other solutions are only proposals. For example, high schools that have made their start times later in the morning have seen a drop in students falling asleep while driving to school. Organizations want to see mandatory testing of sleep apnea in professional drivers to improve safety.