Distracted driving and drunk driving often get the spotlight when it comes to determining car accident causes in the United States. Nowadays, another cause is also getting some attention. A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that drowsy driving is responsible for over 6,000 car accident fatalities a year. Falling asleep at the wheel is a serious problem, with 15 percent of all fatal accidents involving a drowsy driver.

Researchers in the study examined data from previous publications on drowsy driving and found that 5,445 fatal crashes since 2010 were caused by drowsy driving. The results show that long hours at work, working night shifts, and working multiple jobs all make drivers more likely to drive while tired. Motorists who fail to get enough sleep before a long road trip are also more likely to be drowsy while behind the wheel. In some cases, medical conditions such as sleep apnea can cause drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is often very similar to drunk driving in that it causes slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and poor decision-making. As a result, drowsy drivers can be as dangerous on the roadways as drunk drivers.

Drowsy drivers in Louisiana often feel like they don’t have a choice but to drive while tired. However, there are other options. Researchers suggest that motorists pull over and take a nap in a safe place if they start to feel sleepy. Caffeine may also be helpful for short periods of time. If an individual knows that he or she didn’t get enough sleep the night before, then carpooling may be another option. In any case, drowsy driving should be avoided at all costs to ensure that safety remains a top priority.

Source: Fox News, “Drowsy drivers often behind fatal crashes,” Feb. 13, 2017