New Drowsy Driving Report Raises Profile of Emerging Issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Sleep Foundation has released a report showing that states have made some progress during the last decade in identifying drowsy driving as a hazard to the motoring public, through police training, driving education and legislation. But states still have a long way to go in developing a coherent strategy to reduce drowsy driving and the resulting deaths and injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving results in 100,000 police-reported crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 deaths each year. But these estimates are thought to be conservative for a variety of reasons: there is no test for drowsy driving, states have inconsistent reporting practices, few police departments are trained to identify drowsy drivers, and self-reporting is unreliable. Data from other nations, such as Australia and England, show that drowsy driving is a factor in 10 to 30 percent of all crashes. According to the NSF, 60 percent of drivers have driven while drowsy in the past year, and 20 percent, or about 32 million people, admit to having actually fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving because drivers operating while fatigued have slower reaction times, reduced vigilance and deficits in information processing, similar to alcohol impairment. Continue reading