When Drowsy Driving Becomes Deadly

In 2010, the Texas Transportation Institute conducted a study that found that over the previous decade, the percentage of deadly car accidents occurring overnight was on a steady rise. According to the TTI, one cause for the trend was driver fatigue.

In Texas and across the country, drivers who are tired behind the wheel pose a serious threat to themselves and to others on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that between 2005 and 2009, drowsy driving played a role in up to 2.6 percent of the fatal crashes in the country. Though that percentage may seem relatively small, it is a significant number for the hundreds of families who lose a loved one in an incident every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that driving while tired can cause slowed reaction times, driver inattention and an inability to make safe decisions. Drowsy driving is especially seen among drivers who work either the night shift or long shift as well as commercial drivers.

The National Sleep Foundation urges motorists to recognize the signs of fatigue, which include the following:

  • Having trouble remembering driving the last few miles
  • Frequent blinking or yawning
  • Having difficulty staying in a lane
  • Repeatedly hitting the rumble strip on the highway

People who experience these symptoms often turn to drinking a caffeinated beverage, rolling down the windows or turning up the radio to get temporary relief. However, experts agree that these measures are not effective. Instead, drowsy drivers should immediately pull over the vehicle to rest. Doing so could mean preventing a fatal accident.

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