Tired Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

AAA estimates that 1.7 million Arizonians will be traveling on the road this holiday season. Many people find it more cost effective to drive instead of fly. Some people will be traveling a considerable distance, which means long hours on the road. Here are the estimated travel times to drive from Phoenix, Arizona to major nearby cities.

Phoenix to

  • Las Vegas:  5.25 hours (287 miles)
  • Los Angeles: 6 hours (372 miles)
  • San Diego: 6 hours (355 miles)
  • San Francisco: 12.25 hours (751 miles)
  • Salt Lake City:  14 hours (821 miles)
  • Houston: 18.75 hours (1176 miles)

A survey by the National Sleep Foundation in 2005 found that 60% of Americans admit to driving when they are drowsy and that 37% have fallen asleep at the wheel.  The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that tiredness causes 52% of car accidents.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that driver fatigue kills 1,550 people each year and contributes to 71,000 driver fatigue injuries. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 1 million crashes every year are caused by driver inattention.

The symptoms of driver fatigue include frequent yawning, drifting between traffic lanes, misjudging traffic situations, and seeing things “jump out” on the road.

Driver fatigue causes crashes because a tired driver has slower reaction times compared to an alert driver, similar to drunk drivers.  Studies show that a person who goes without sleep for 24 hours has the similar cognitive-psychomotor abilities as a person with a .10 blood-alcohol level.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a survey of police officers. Almost 90% of the officers who responded reported that they had pulled someone over for suspicion of DUI and found that the driver was sober but tired.

Here are some tips to avoid driver fatigue.

  1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep before a long road trip.
  2. Drive with a companion who can take over if you’re too tired to drive and monitor you for signs of fatigue.
  3. Stop every 100 miles or 2 hours, even if you don’t feel tired.
  4. Avoid alcohol and medications that cause fatigue.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Photo credit: erasergirl from Flickr