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Don't Drowse and Drive

Thousands of crashes occur each year because drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Learn the signs so that you know when you are getting drowsy, what puts you at risk for drowsy driving, and what to do to stay alert.

What Are the Signs of Sleepiness?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides some warning sign to help you identify when you are getting too tired to drive. If you begin to experience any of these, it is time to stop driving and get some sleep:

Are You at Risk?

To determine if you are at an increased risk for a sleep-related traffic accident, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety asks the following questions:

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you are at a higher risk of having a car accident related to being tired.

In addition, analysis of sleepy driver crashes shows that having taken sedating medications on a previous night was associated with subsequent crash. If you spend time on the road, don’t use medications that could produce rebound sleepiness the next day.

What Can You Do?

Here are some things you can do to prevent drowsy driving:

Note: If you are relying on coffee to keep you awake, it is time to pull over and call it a night. The best strategy is to take a break from being behind the wheel.

If you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, talk to your doctor about your symptoms so you can get proper treatment.

In the meantime, it is important to remember that driving when sleepy may be as dangerous as drunk driving—for you and for others on the road.

RESOURCES:

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
https://www.aaafoundation.org

Drowsy Driving
http://drowsydriving.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canada Safety Council
http://www.safety-council.org

The Canadian Sleep Society (CSS)
http://css-scs.ca

REFERENCES:

Alvarez FJ, Fiero I, Gomez-Talagon FT, Vicondoa A, Ozcoidi M. Patients treated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and fitness to drive assessment in clinical practice in Spain at the medical traffic centers. Traffic Inj Preven. 2008;9(2):168-172.

Countermeasures. Drowsy Driving website. Available at: http://drowsydriving.org/about/countermeasures. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Czeisler CA. Walsh JK, Roth T, et al. Modafinil for excessive sleepiness associated with shift-work sleep disorder. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(5):476-486

Drowsy driving. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety website. Available at: https://www.aaafoundation.org/drowsy-driving. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Facts. Drowsy Driving website. Available at: http://drowsydriving.org/about. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Facts and stats. Drowsy Driving website. Available at: http://drowsydriving.org/about/facts-and-stats. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Stutts JC, Wilkins JW, Scott Osberg J, Vaughn BV. Driver risk factors for sleep-related crashes. Accid Anal Prev. 2003;35(3):321-331.

Wake up and get some sleep. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Available at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/drowsy_driving1/human/drows_driving/index.html. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 5/13/2016