CDC Study: Many Drivers are Asleep at the Wheel

Have you ever fallen asleep while driving your car? Chances are, more than four out of 100 drivers would have to answer “Yes.”

That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a report released January 4.

Researchers asked 147,076 people in 19 states and the District of Columbia, “During the past 30 days, have you ever nodded off or fallen asleep, even just for a brief moment, while driving?” Of those surveyed, 4.2 percent said they had.

The CDC says driving while sleepy, known as “drowsy driving” or “fatigued driving,” is more common in men, people age 25 to 34, and those who averaged fewer than six hours of sleep each night.

The CDC quotes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as saying drowsy driving contributes to 2.5 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes nationwide (approximately 730 in 2009) and 2 percent of all crashes with nonfatal injuries (approximately 30,000 in 2009).

In a 2002 report about drowsy driving, the NHTSA says: “Overall, 37 percent of the driving population says they have nodded off for at least a moment or fallen asleep while driving at some time in their life.”

Further, the NHTSA says 10 percent of the study’s respondents reported falling asleep behind the wheel within the prior month. “This amounts to about 4 percent of the driving population, or an estimated 7.5 million drivers, who have nodded off while driving within the past month,” the NHTSA report says.

The CDC says those at increased risk for drowsy driving include:

  • Commercial drivers (long-haul truck drivers)
  • People who work at night or long shifts
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders
  • Drivers who use sedating medications
  • Anyone who does not get adequate sleep

Drivers should ensure that they get enough sleep (seven to nine hours a night), seek treatment for sleep disorders, and refrain from drinking alcohol before driving, the CDC says.

Getting behind the wheel while too sleepy or fatigued to drive safely can amount to careless and reckless driving. Drowsy drivers can and should be held accountable for their actions.

The Joye Law Firm, which has offices in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, can assist you if you’ve been hurt in a South Carolina drowsy driving accident. There are ways to demonstrate that a driver may have been asleep at the wheel prior to a car crash. You can reach us at 888-918-4964 or fill out our online form for a free case review.