Driving to work last week I was surprised by a Coyote running across the road in front of the car. Of course wildlife is common and that wasn’t too surprising. What was surprising was that as the car approached and he got spooked, he turned tail and ran back across the road in front of the car again! Fortunately for him it was early morning and we were awake enough to save his skin. Still I wonder what might have happened if we were coming home from work – drowsy driving is a big problem and one many people are susceptible to, especially with long commutes at each end of a full day at work.
By 5 pm we’re naturally starting to feel tired and yawning is common. Couple the long day with comfortable seats, music, and the hum of the car on the road – it almost becomes hypnotic. And then, unfortunately, it causes accidents. Of course we all have good insurance to protect our vehicles, but that doesn’t fix the harm we can do to ourselves or others.
How big a problem is drowsy driving?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s huge! 60% of people drive while drowsy and one in three have fallen asleep while driving. As my granddad used to tell us when we thought we were good drivers, “you’re only as safe as the other driver”. And if the other driver is asleep, that may not be very safe at all.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.
Of course, as drowsy driving is such a big safety topic, we have a course to help you. Even if you don’t take it, at least take a nap! Better to turn up late than in an ambulance.