While drivers are correct to be concerned about the dangers of distracted driving, or as a result of drinking and driving, one of the main risks drivers face when taking long road trips is the risk of serious or fatal injury in an accident caused by driver fatigue.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 2.4 percent of the fatal vehicle-related accidents in the U.S. each year can be attributed to driver fatigue. Driver fatigue, or drowsy driving, is also responsible for between 2.0 and 2.3 percent of injury collisions. Not all of these instances involve drivers who actually fell asleep behind the wheel. In some cases, the driver was exhibiting signs of fatigue, was becoming drowsy, experienced his or her eyes beginning to droop, or started to get sleepy shortly before the accident occurred.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that out of 150,000 surveyed adults over the age of 18, 4.2 percent admitted to having fallen asleep or dozed off behind the wheel in the previous 30 days. One of the contributing factors found in those who admitted to dozing off was that they were getting less than six hours of sleep a night.
Drivers can protect themselves and their passengers, as well as lower their risk of being involved in an accident, when they are able to recognize the signs of drowsy driving. Here are a few of the signs it may be time to pull over and get some rest:
When a driver is feeling fatigued, it can cause him or her to become less attentive to what is happening on the road ahead, and with surrounding vehicles. Fatigue can also slow reaction time dramatically, as well as have a negative impact on a driver’s decision-making abilities. While some drivers may believe they can drive, even if they are tired, it is not worth the risk.
If you are planning on driving to your vacation destination this summer, use our long trip checklist so you know what to do before you set out, and how to keep you and your family safe:
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