When one thinks of dangerous driving, driving under the influence is usually the first thing that comes to mind; but equally daunting is driving while drowsy. Drowsy driving kills more than 1,550 people a year in the United States and causes 71,000 injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which estimates there are 100,000 sleep-related crashes a year. In the U.K., Australia, and Finland, drowsy driving is reported as 10-30% of all crashes.

Men are more likely than women to drive while sleepy, and they have more than double the risk of actually falling asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is also more common in younger people, especially those between the ages of 18-29. Sleep related crashes are more likely in the sleep deprived, which includes people who have been up on all night drug binges. In New Jersey, Maggie’s Law was enacted to prosecute people getting behind the wheel after being awake for 24 hours straight.

It’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. In its honor, I’m going to drink my third cup of coffee; and I’m going to urge you to pull over if you’re feeling sleepy and take a nap. Pushing it for one more mile just isn’t worth it. I can’t think of anything worse than waking up in a disaster zone with people dead (especially your loved one’s) because you doze off while driving. Hit the truck stop, man, and catch some zzzzzz’s. You’ll be happy–and alive–when you wake up.

More tips on preventing drowsy driving here and here.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.