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Drowsy Driving: 5 Things You Need to Know

Drowsy woman yawning while driving

Texas is a big state. If you’re wanting to get from Tyler to San Antonio, you’re looking at more than a 5-hour drive. It can be easy to get tired when driving long distances. Drowsy driving is a common problem that can lead to automobile accidents.

Here are 5 things you need to know about drowsy driving.

What is Drowsy Driving?

Like drunk driving, drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving that negatively impacts a person’s ability to drive safely. The extreme case of drowsy driving is falling asleep behind the wheel. Being sleepy and fatigued is just as dangerous.

Common signs of drowsiness include:

  • Yawning
  • Blinking frequently
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Continually hitting the rumble strips on the road
  • Heavy eyelids (fighting to keep eyes open)
  • Nodding off

Why is it Such a Problem?

Even if you don’t fall asleep behind the wheel, being sleepy or fatigued and driving is dangerous because:

  • You aren’t paying attention as closely to the road
  • Your reaction time is slowed
  • Your ability to react quickly and with good judgment is impaired
  • You become more moody and may be tempted to drive more aggressively

Drowsy Driving is a Serious Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 72,000 car accidents in 2013 were caused by drowsy driving.

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed data collected by the NHTSA and estimated that 7% of automobile accidents and 16.5% of fatal accidents involved drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is a serious problem on U.S. roads and threatens the safety of drivers.


Man driving car while yawning


Who is at Risk?

All drivers are at risk of driving drowsy. However, people who are most at risk include:

  • Drivers who get fewer than 6 hours of sleep (it’s recommended that you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night)
  • Commercial drivers (driving long routes, especially at night)
  • Shift workers (working long or night shifts)
  • Drivers with sleep disorders (like sleep apnea)
  • People using medications (some can lead to drowsiness or sleepiness)

What Do I Do if I Find Myself Sleepy Behind the Wheel?

In order to prevent yourself from driving drowsy, it’s important to know the warning signs listed at the beginning. You know yourself best and know when you’re tired or beginning to nod off.

Turning the radio on or opening your vehicle’s windows will not help you stay awake. If you find yourself experiencing any of the warning signs, safely pull off the road immediately. If you’re driving with someone, switch drivers and take a nap. If you’re driving by yourself, find a safe place to park and take a nap.

Some people find that caffeine helps keep them awake and alert. If this works for you, find a place to grab a cup of coffee or energy drink. However, some people aren’t affected by caffeine or can react differently, only adding to their drowsiness.


Driver holding paper cup of coffee in one hand and steering with the other hand


Remember that it’s more important to arrive at your destination safe than on time. Take your time and make sure you are fully alert when you’re behind the wheel.

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident because of a drowsy driver or for any other reason, contact the Colley & Colley law firm in Tyler, Texas for a free consultation. We’re dedicated to providing you with the best legal counsel in East Texas.