Drowsy Driving


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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.

Another great source of information is the Drivers Pledge from BSA and Risk Zone: Transporting Scouts Safely.

*National Sleep Foundation

From the CDC