What is drowsy driving and why is it a problem?
Sleep experts generally define drowsy driving as being either sleepy or fatigued to the point where it impairs the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, many factors lead to fatigue and drowsy driving. These include inadequate sleep, accumulated sleep debt, the use of medications or alcohol while driving, undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders and varying work schedules. These factors have an increasing effect whereby the higher number of sleep-related factors affecting the driver, the greater risk of becoming involved in a fatigue-related collision.
From 2008-2012, fatigue-related collisions represented less than one per cent of collisions in Manitoba.1 Those collisions tend to be serious ones though, because drowsy drivers don’t often make corrective adjustments to avoid the crash. Drowsy driving collisions tend to be at higher speeds and are often under-reported, as many drivers are reluctant to report falling asleep at the wheel.
Driving while fatigued or drowsy can result in significant consequences for all motorists. As drivers, we need to understand that fatigue-related collisions are a serious traffic safety issue and take corrective measures to minimize the risks. Some solutions will require making lifestyle changes in addition to recognizing the warning signs of drowsy driving.
Some warning signs to watch for while driving on the road:
- can't stop yawning
- have trouble keeping your eyes open
- can't remember the last few kilometers you've driven
- car starts drifting within your lane
- unable to concentrate and find that your thoughts wander
If you have one of these symptoms, it's best to get off the road and to find a safe rest area to take a nap.
1 Source: 2013 Traffic Collision Statistics Report, Manitoba Public Insurance.