Study finds drowsy driving to be a contributing factor in approximately 10% of car crashes


When a driver is operating a car or other motor vehicle, they have a responsibility to do so safely and responsibly. Most people know that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can severely impact perceptions, reaction time, and judgment. However, there are also other ways a driver may be impaired that may not have anything to do with drinking or drug use. For instance, a driver can be extremely unsafe when operating a motor vehicle when they are too tired to drive. Drowsy driving can lead to serious and even deadly consequences. This type of driving occurs more commonly than most people realize. In fact, a recent study found drowsy driving to be a contributing factor in approximately 10% of car crashes.

What is Drowsy Driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowsy driving occurs when a motorist operates a vehicle while fatigued or sleepy. According to data cited by the CDC, between 2005 and 2009, it’s estimated that drowsy driving was responsible for an annual average of:

  • 83,000 collisions
  • 37,000 injury collisions
  • 886 fatal crashes (846 fatalities in 2014)

In addition, the CDC estimates that drowsy driving causes up to 6000 crashes. The agency also reported that approximately 1 out of 25 adults stated: “that they had fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days.” In addition, individuals who snored or slept less than 6 hours a day were likelier than others to fall asleep while operating a motor vehicle.

According to a recent article from, “the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in its survey of more than 3,500 drivers that drowsiness was a contributing factor in up to 9.5 percent of all crashes examined and 10.8 percent of crashes that included airbag deployment, injury or significant property damage.”


New York Drowsy Driving

According to a recent report, 2017 New York data showed that “fatigue or drowsy driving” or “driver fell asleep” were factors in 2,337 police-reported personal injury and fatal crashes.


What is the Impact of Driving While Drowsy?


Driving while sleepy or drowsy can impair the operator’s ability to react to road conditions, make decisions, and be attentive. In essence, driving without enough rest can result in significant cognitive impairment meaning slower reaction times, coordination, and judgment.

According to the CDC, studies have established that drowsy driving can be similar to drunk driving. CDC data revealed that being awake for at least 18 hours can be the equivalent of having a blood content (BAC) of 0.05%. Being up for 24 hours can be similar to having a BAC of 0.10%. The legal limit is 0.08%. In addition, those with too little sleep can experience increased effects of even low alcohol use.


Signs of Drowsy Driving


Drowsy driving can be subjective; therefore, it’s not always easy for drivers to recognize that they are too tired to operate a vehicle. However, it may help to know some of the warning signs.

Some signs of possible drowsy driving may include:

  • Frequent yawning or blinking and having severely watery eyes,
  • Memory lapses
  • Hitting rumble strips
  • Missing your exit
  • Drifting from your lane.


Some Drivers May be More at Risk of Drowsy Driving


Certain types of drivers may be more at risk for driving drowsy, such as those who operate commercial vehicles, night shift workers, people who work long shifts, drivers who have sleep disorders, and individuals who are on medications that may make them tired.


Ways to Prevent Drowsy Driving

  1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per day
  2. Get Treatment for sleep disorders and difficulties
  3. Develop positive sleep habits and a consistent routine
  4. Avoid alcohol consumption and taking medications that make you tired before driving.
  5. Pull over and rest if you feel you are becoming too tired to drive safely.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Sometimes, drowsy driving can lead to serious accidents. If you or a loved one have been harmed during a drowsy driving collision, you should schedule a free consultation with the experienced attorneys at Bonina & Bonina, P.C. Call us at 1888-MEDLAW1 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have experience helping clients with car accident personal injury cases, and we can explain your options and help you decide what actions you should take. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we come to work every day believing that there should be equal justice for all. Se Habla Espaňol. Home and hospital visits are available.