Drowsy Driving

Watch how a driver makes the mistake of driving drowsy and the nearly catastrophic consequences.
Drowsy Driver

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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

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