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Drowsy Driver Statistics

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Posted on February 25, 2014

Many drivers are aware of the dangers of driving under the influence (DUI), but drowsy driving remains an equally dangerous issue threatening the safety of all motorists on our nation’s roads. Drowsy driving is the leading cause of all fatal commercial truck accidents, but it is also a prominent concern among everyday motorists. Driver fatigue can impair a driver’s abilities and reaction time more severely than drunk driving. Drowsy driving greatly increases a driver’s risk of being involved in a severe and potentially fatal traffic accident.

To Driver Groups at Highest Risk for Drowsy Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that while fatal crashes resulting from drowsy driving are difficult to track, thousands of fatal crashes each year are caused by drowsy drivers. Those groups most at risk for drowsy driving are:

  • Business travelers or shift workers (2nd – 3rd shift)
  • Commercial drivers (Truckers & Long Distance Drivers)
  • Drivers using medications with sedating side effects
  • Drivers who are sleep deprived
  • Drivers who have consumed any alcohol (even while under the legal limit)
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders
  • Younger male drivers ages 16 to 25

The Common Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving

According to the CDC, the early signs of drowsy driving / driver fatigue include:

  • Drifting onto the shoulder or hitting the rumble strips
  • Drifting out of a lane or wandering
  • Driver Inattention (zoning out, lack of awareness)
  • Inability to keep eyes open, Frequently Blinking, Fluttering Eyelids
  • Inability to keep head raised (partial or full nodding)
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven
  • Repeated yawning

Drowsy Driver / Driver Fatigue Statistics

According to various surveys and other research performed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following represent drowsy driving statistics in the US:

  • 2.5% (or 6,000) of all fatal crashes and 2% of injury-related auto accidents involve drowsy driving
  • 100,000 of police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue every year
  • Among nearly 150,000 adults aged at least 18 years or older in 19 states and the District of Columbia, 4.2percent reported that they had fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days
  • Adults between ages 18-25 are much more likely to drive while drowsy compared to other age groups
  • Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving
  • Adults with children in the household are more likely to drive drowsy than those without
  • Shift workers are more likely than those who work a regular daytime schedule to drive to or from work drowsy at least a couple of days out of each month


National Sleep Foundation

Center for Disease Control and Prevention


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