Almost every driver has done it at least once, many without even knowing they were driving while sleeping. Drowsy driving is impaired driving and is one of the leading causes of accidents in the US.
Drowsy driving can be defined as driving while being exhausted or overly tired accompanied by times of micro sleep, which are brief bursts of sleep lasting from a few seconds up to about thirty seconds. These are the time when a driver awakes to find themselves going off the road or almost hitting the car in front of them.
Like any other form of impaired driving, drowsy driving slows down reaction time, impairs judgement and affects decision making while driving. Drowsy driving is not limited to the nighttime or second or third shift workers.
According to the CDC, drowsy driving was more common in men, people ages 25 to 34, who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night.
Most drivers underestimate the dangers involved with drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates drowsy driving is a factor in nearly one in six fatal crashes each year.
A recently AAA poll showed that two out of five drivers surveyed (41 percent) admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point, with some drivers never even realizing they were asleep.
Drivers often try to overcome drowsy driving by opening a window, turning up the radio or shifting their eyes back and forth over the road in order to avoid staring. None of these methods are really effective, researchers say the best way to curb drowsy driving is to try and get seven to nine hours of sleep each day or night.