Facts + Statistics: Drowsy driving


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving when sleepy. Drowsiness can make a person less able to pay attention to the road, lead to slow reaction time, and affect the ability to make good decisions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy-driving crashes:

  • occur most frequently between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon
  • often involve a single driver with no passengers
  • frequently happen on rural roads or highways.

The chart below shows that in 2021, 2.2 percent of fatal crashes were caused by drivers who were drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blacked out.

Driving Behaviors Reported For Drivers And Motorcycle Operators Involved In Fatal Crashes, 2021

Behavior   Number Percent
Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limit or racing 11,254 18.5%
Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication 6,835 11.2
Operating vehicle in a careless manner 4,601 7.6
Failure to yield right of way 4,239 7
Failure to keep in proper lane 4,042 6.6
Distracted (phone, talking, eating, object, etc.) 3,346 5.5
Operating vehicle in erratic, reckless or negligent manner 2,615 4.3
Failure to obey traffic signs, signals, or officer 2,450 4
Overcorrecting/oversteering 1,845 3
Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, building, trees, etc.) 1,584 2.6
Drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blacked out  1,310 2.2
Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, etc. 1,278 2.1
Driving wrong way on one-way traffic or wrong side of road 1,179 1.9
Making improper turn 445 0.7
Other factors 5,825 9.6
None reported 9,576 15.7
Unknown 19,636 32.2
Total drivers (1) 60,904 100%

(1) Number of drivers and motorcycle operators.
(2) The sum of the numbers and 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.

View Archived Tables

Additional resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel.

National Safety Council, Drivers are Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel.


Back to top