Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel

Car driver asleep at the wheel

DROWSY DRIVING:
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

Car driver asleep at the wheel

DRIVE ALERT AND STAY UNHURT.

Learn the risks of drowsy driving and how to protect yourself.

WHAT IS DROWSY DRIVING?

Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This can happen to a driver for several reasons.

Drowsy Driving diagram. Chart showing causes of drowsy driving: medications, drinking alcohol, shift work not enough sleep, untreated sleep disorders

THE DROWSY DRIVING PROBLEM

Drowsy driving is a major problem in the United States. Falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous, but being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely even if you don’t fall asleep. Drowsiness—

  • Makes drivers less able to pay attention to the road.
  • Slows reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly.
  • Affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions.

DID YOU KNOW?

Up to

6,000 fatal crashes

each year may be caused by drowsy drivers

Car crash

WHO’S MORE LIKELY TO DRIVE DROWSY?

  • Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses.
  • Shift workers (work the night shift or long shifts).
    Truck driver sleeping
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as one where breathing repeatedly stops and starts (sleep apnea).
  • Drivers who use medications that make them sleepy.
  • Drivers who do not get enough sleep.

LEARN THE WARNING SIGNS OF DROWSY DRIVING

Car with sleeping driver
  • Yawning or blinking frequently.
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven.
  • Missing your exit.
  • Drifting from your lane.
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.

For more warning signs visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

If you experience any of these warning signs
PULL OVER TO REST OR CHANGE DRIVERS.
Simply turning up the radio or opening the
window are not effective ways to keep you alert.

PREVENT DROWSY DRIVING,
BEFORE TAKING THE WHEEL

There are a few things you should do before taking the wheel to prevent driving while drowsy.

Person sleeping in bed

Get enough sleep! Adults need 7 hours and teens need at least 8 hours.

Calendar

Develop good sleeping habits such as sticking to a sleep schedule.

Medicine bottle

Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you sleepy. Check the labels.

Person asleep at desk

Talk to your doctor about treatment options if you have a sleep disorder or symptoms such as snoring.

Clock reading 20 minutes

If you notice the warning signs of drowsy driving while driving, pull over to a safe place and take a 15-20 minute nap or change drivers.

HHS and CDC logos

Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention

National Center for Chronic
Disease Prevention and
Health Promotion