While some people may feel as though they are able to drive while drowsy or fatigued, many do not know the potential consequences of their actions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 800 people were killed and 44,000 people were injured in car accidents involving drowsy drivers in 2013. Furthermore, fatigued drivers in Tennessee and across the country caused at least 72,000 auto collisions that same year. These numbers reflect only reported accidents, however, and do not account for the significant number of collisions that go unreported every year.
At least 70 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleeping disorders, putting them at a potential risk for falling asleep behind the wheel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who take certain prescription medications that cause drowsiness are also in danger, and should avoid driving. When drowsy motorists engage in distractive behaviors, such as using a cellphone while driving or are intoxicated while behind the wheel, the risk of an accident increases significantly. All drivers should make sure to get plenty of rest before heading out on the road, especially teenage motorists, as they require more sleep.
Not only are drowsy drivers less likely to respond to critical hazards, such as pedestrian crossings, traffic signals or bad weather conditions, but they are unable to react to other drivers’ behavior. If for some reason, a driver must brake suddenly or switch lanes to avoid an object in the road, he or she may be unable to do so if fatigued.