Drowsy Driving is a Leading Cause of Accidents

Almost everyone has heard of the fatal implications of distracted driving, most notably by using handheld electronic devices.  The accident statistics emanating from distracted driving are so concerning and compelling that most states have enacted prohibitions on the use of handheld electronic devices while actively driving a motorized vehicle.  Unfortunately, the focus on distracted driving has largely mitigated awareness of another hazard of equal calamity: DROWSY DRIVING.  Drowsiness mimics alcohol-impaired driving in many ways as it leads to slower reaction times, impaired attention, mental processing, judgment, and decision making.  Certain studies attribute drowsy driving as a contributor in 20% of all fatal accidents and 33% of all accidents!!!

Sleepiness is an inescapable biological phenomenon that has drastic effects on the mind and body. Whether sleepiness is caused by sleep restriction due to a baby crying all night, a late shift at work, a teenager staying up all night with friends, health issues such as sleep apnea and medications, or our natural circadian rhythm – the negative outcomes can be the same. Most importantly, the longer someone remains awake, the more probable the negative outcomes become. Sleepiness, without fail, results in cognitive and behavioral changes that can contribute to diverse negative outcomes including automobile crashes, poor school performance, accidents at work, and other long-term physical and mental health consequences.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declared that reducing fatigue-related accidents was one of its most wanted transportation safety improvements.  Drowsy driving is a controllable behavior that drivers can mitigate if given sufficient information and motivation.  


  • Getting adequate sleep on a daily basis is the only true way to protect yourself against the risks of driving when you’re drowsy.
  • Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving. Consumption of alcohol interacts with sleepiness to increase drowsiness and impairment.
  • Always check your prescription and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness could result from their use.
  • Avoid driving during the peak sleepiness periods (midnight – 6 a.m. and late afternoon).
  • Drinking coffee or energy drinks alone is not always enough. They might help you feel more alert, but the effects last only a short time, and you might not be as alert as you think you are. If you drink coffee and are seriously sleep-deprived, you still may have “micro sleeps” or brief losses of consciousness that can last for four or five seconds. This means that at 55 miles per hour, you’ve traveled more than 100 yards down the road while asleep. That’s plenty of time to cause a crash.
  • If you start to get sleepy while you’re driving, drink one to two cups of coffee and pull over for a short 20-minute nap in a safe place, such as a lighted, designated rest stop. This has been shown to increase alertness in scientific studies, but only for short time periods.

Drowsy driving has most likely happened to everyone reading this article.  Sleepiness is a natural, biological outcome, occurring daily as our bodies are telling us to rest.  It’s imperative that drivers heed warning to this naturally occurring hazard and make decisions to avoid driving drowsy.  NEMT Insurance is committed to helping educate our clients on hazards that can lead to accidents and the resulting heartache and financial implications.  As the only insurance source completely dedicated to the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation industry, we are uniquely qualified to help you protect your business.

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