Drowsy Driving

    Stay awake and stay alive.

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    Sixty percent of adult drivers in the U.S. (about 168 million) say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the last year.*
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the following consequences from drowsy driving:

    • 100,000 crashes annually
    • 1,550 deaths (according to the CDC, the actual total is between 5,000-6,000 yearly fatalities)
    • 71,000 injuries
    • $12.5 billion in monetary losses
    • Australia, England, Finland, and other European nations that have better reporting than the U.S. indicate 10-30 percent of all crashes are in part caused by drowsiness

    Drowsy Driving: The Sleepy Killer

    These figures are very conservative since it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.

    Who is most likely to be at risk?

    • Adults 18-29 (71 percent of all drowsy driving crashes)*
    • Men are more likely than women to drive drowsy*
    • According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation increases stress and impatience, and drowsy drivers increase their speed more than those who have had sufficient sleep
    • Most crashes occur between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.*

    Signs it is time for a driver to stop and rest:

    • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
    • Daydreaming; wandering or disconnected thoughts
    • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
    • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
    • Trouble keeping your head up
    • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
    • Feeling restless and irritable


    • Get adequate sleep (7-9 hours)
    • Schedule proper breaks while driving—about every 100 miles or every two hours
    • Arrange for a proper number of adults to share the driving
    • Have a fresh driver available for the drive home
    • Be aware of medications that might cause drowsiness
    • If you feel tired while driving (see above):
      • Stop driving
      • Take a nap
      • Exchange drivers
      • Be aware of rumble strips

    Turning on the radio or opening the window are not effective means of keeping you alert.

    *National Sleep Foundation
    From the CDC

    Additional Resources