Drowsy Driving

Drowsy Driving

Research shows that fatigue is a significant factor in motor vehicle, commercial trucking and rail collisions.

  • Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 motor vehicle crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research.
  • An AAA Traffic Safety Foundation study found that 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. An estimated 21 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in severe injury and 6 percent of all crashes, involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2014 study by the AAA.
  • Driver-related factors such as fatigue were recorded for 34 percent of the drivers of large trucks in fatal collisions in 2010 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • Speeding was the top driver-related factor in crashes involving large trucks, followed by distraction/inattention, impairment (fatigue, alcohol, illness, etc.), failure to keep in proper lane and vision obscured, according to the DOT.
  • A 2013 study by the Federal Rail Administration found that fatigue greatly increases the chances of an accident in which human factors play a role, with the risk of such an accident rising from11 percent to 65 percent.


Driving Behaviors Reported For Drivers And Motorcycle Operators Involved In Fatal Crashes, 2014

Behavior Number of drivers Percent
Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit 8,360 18.8%
Under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication 5,492 12.3
Failure to keep in proper lane or running off road 3,770 8.5
Failure to yield right of way 3,094 6.9
Distracted (phone, talking, eating, object, etc.) 3,000 6.7
Operating vehicle in a careless manner 2,122 4.8
Overcorrecting/oversteering 1,814 4.1
Failure to obey traffic signs, signals or officer 1,796 4.0
Operating vehicle in erratic, reckless, or negligent manner 1,548 3.5
Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, other
vehicle, object, nonmotorist in roadway, etc.
1,510 3.4
Drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blacked out 1,309 2.9
Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, buildings, trees, etc.) 1,241 2.8
Driving wrong way on one-way trafficway or on wrong side of road 879 2.0
Making improper turn 765 1.7
Other factors 5,212 11.7
None reported 13,885 31.1
Unknown 5,740 12.9
Total drivers (1) 44,583 100.0%

(1) The sum of percentages is greater than total drivers as more than one factor may be present for the same driver.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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