Although most residents of the District of Columbia realize that drowsy driving can be dangerous, a recent study from AAA indicates that many individuals take the risk and drive while drowsy anyway. In fact, 43 percent of participants in the study reported that they had actually or nearly fallen asleep at the wheel on at least one occasion. Statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that up to 7,000 fatalities each year are attributed to the issue of drowsy driving.
A variety of studies and reports are prompting fresh efforts by the NHTSA to target this behavior on the road. In 2010, AAA identified that nearly 17 percent of traffic fatalities occurred because of drowsy driving. A newer study identifies that the group most likely to be involved in driving while drowsy are motorists between the ages of 19 and 24. In fact, nearly 40 percent of the members of this age group involved in the recent AAA study noted that they had struggled within the past month with keeping their eyes open while driving. Across all age groups, more than 30 percent of drivers expressed recent drowsy driving encounters.
Efforts like National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week draw attention to this issue. However, personal decisions play a critical role in effecting change on the roads. The potential for fatigue may be difficult to gauge as drivers carry on their daily activities of life. The younger group may be most susceptible due to a combination of factors, including long hours of studying, late-night work schedules, an interest in socializing late at night and a lack of life experience that may make it difficult to recognize the potential for falling asleep at the wheel.
Fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents can be extremely serious because of the lack of ability to correct one’s driving errors after dozing off. Unfortunately, the legal and financial ramifications for fatigued driving could be quite high, potentially altering the course of a young driver’s life.