Drowsy driving risks during holiday traveling season

The song that begins with, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go,” doesn’t end with, “But we never arrived because Dad fell asleep at the wheel.” However, this doesn’t mean that you and other Missouri residents should discount the hazards of drowsy driving when you are preparing to visit family during the holidays, or at any other time.

Drowsy driving is as much of a safety concern as distracted driving and drunk driving. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caution that getting behind the wheel while fatigued can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. If you’re running on little sleep, your reaction time, attention span and ability to make smart decisions are compromised – just the same as if you were driving drunk.

The CDC has provided the following statistics on drowsy driving to make you aware of the scope of the problem:

  • Fatigued driving may have been responsible for 72,000 motor vehicle accidents, 800 deaths and 44,000 injuries in the U.S. in 2013.
  • About 6,000 fatal accidents every year may be sleep-related, since it isn’t always easy to determine whether a driver was drowsy in an accident.
  • About one in every 25 drivers may have fallen asleep behind the wheel during the past month.

Additionally, authorities say those who are most at risk of being in a sleep-related accident include shift workers, commercial drivers, people who take medications that cause drowsiness and those with untreated sleep disorders. If you don’t get enough sleep regularly, you may also be in this group.

You may reduce your risks of being in a drowsy driving accident by getting a full night’s rest before driving and seeing a doctor for a sleep-related issue. However, it’s not possible to prevent the actions of others. If a drowsy driver injures you this holiday season, you may be eligible for compensation.