Drowsy driving, how bad is it really?
A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that nearly 17 percent of all fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver, 4,400 just last year in the US1. Their study found that driving while drowsy may be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. They discovered that if you are awake for 20 hours without sleep your judgment and response time is delayed just as much as a person with a .08 blood alcohol level2. AAA reported that 41% of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, with 1 in 10 saying they had in the past year3.
This would hold true with people with untreated sleep apnea. Even if you do sleep on a regular schedule but are not getting the restorative sleep you need and sleep apnea disrupts you may fall into this category. In people with untreated sleep apnea are 7 times more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash2. Some signs that you may be too sleepy to drive include:
- Yawning or rubbing your eye repeatedly
- Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
- Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive
- Turning up the radio or rolling down the radio
- Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open, or your head up
- Slower reaction time, or poor judgment
If you notice you have any of the above pull over and get some rest. Even a 15-20 minute nap can help you become more aware and be a safe driver on the way home.
If this sounds like you, speak to your physician about sleep apnea. Approximately 20 million Americans are thought to still be undiagnosed.