Choose Safety for Life
Choose Safety for LifeMaryland Safety Campaigns
Martin O'Malley, Governor, and Anthony G. Brown, Lt. Governor
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Did You Know?
60 people were killed by drowsy and inattentive-related crashes in 2006.
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  Home > Focus > Drowsy Driving  
  Drowsy Driving.  

Drowsy driving is another form of distracted driving - drivers experiencing drowsiness do not apply their full attention to the driving task. Driving requires a person to be alert of their actions and surroundings at all times.  Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination.  Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as fatal. 
Sleepiness or Fatigue Causes the Following:

  • Impaired reaction time, judgment and vision
  • Problems with information processing and short-term memory
  • Decreased performance, vigilance and motivation
  • Increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors

Fast Statistics

  • Nationally, the nighttime fatal crash rate considerably exceeds the daytime rate.  The fatal crash rate between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. is ten fold that of the period between 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. 
  • In Maryland 20 percent of all fatal crashes occur between 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m., despite accounting for less than 4 percent of motor vehicle travel.
  • In 2005, 12 people died in drowsy driving-related crashes; 573 people were injured.

National Statistics

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel!  In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month.  Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have experienced a crash or near-miss crash because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year.  This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary loss. 

According to the Sleep Services of America more than 40 million Americans complain of chronic insomnia.

Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving

  • Unable to stop yawning.
  • Trouble keeping your eyes open and focused, especially at stoplights.
  • Driving becomes sloppy and you weave between lanes, tailgate or miss traffic signals.
  • Find yourself hitting the grooves or rumble strips on the side of the road.
  • Find yourself opening a window or turning up the radio to stay alert.
  • Driving aggressively to get to your next destination because of drowsiness.

Stay Alert and Focused

  • Be aware that crashes caused by drowsy driving occur most often during the late night, early morning and mid afternoon hours.
  • Plan rest stops during long distances, stop every two hours to stretch and walk briskly.
  • If you become tired while driving, stop in a safe place and take a short nap to re-energize.
  • Stay focused and alert at all times.
  • Avoid alcohol or medication that cause drowsiness.
  • Be aware that most people need eight hours of good sleep each night to feel well rested.

Persons at Risk

  • Young adults, especially males.
  • Shift workers are at great risk, especially if they have a rotating shift or work more than one job.
  • Commercial drivers who drive a high number of miles and drive during the night are at higher risk for fall-asleep crashes.
  • Persons with untreated sleep problems or disorders (insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy).
  • Business travelers who spend many hours driving or may be experiencing jet lag.
  • Persons who work more than 60 hours a week increase their risk by 40%.

Sleep Tips

  • A regular sleep schedule will help you regulate your sleep-wake cycles and ensure you are getting the proper rest to drive alert.
  • A lack of sleep has been linked to motor vehicle crashes, so avoid driving drowsy because it slows your reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment.
  • Respond to symptoms of fatigue by finding a safe place to stop for a break because feeling sleepy and driving triples your chance of having a crash or destroying someone else’s life.
  • Avoid over-the-counter medications and alcohol if you plan to drive.
  • Sleep related medical conditions may be especially dangerous when driving.
  • Young adults need eight hours of good rest to be alert while driving.


Your choice.Slow down.Always drive sober.Focus.Everyone share the road.
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