Almost every driver on Pennsylvania roads has gotten behind the wheel when they were probably too tired to drive. Whether it was when they came home from a late event or had to wake up too early to get to the airport, many people admit to driving drowsy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly 1 in 25 people fall asleep behind the wheel each month.

By now, we have all heard the assertion that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. But is that really true?

Is drowsy driving really a serious risk?

According to a 2016 study by AAA and the National Safety Council, the answer to that question is yes. Just like drunk driving, operating a vehicle while drowsy can significantly slow someone’s reaction time and ability.

And AAA’s study determined that roughly 328,000 crashes involve drowsy driving each year, resulting in more than 109,000 injuries and 6,400 fatalities. However, most agencies agree that these numbers do not accurately report just how many incidents of drowsy driving there are each year—or how many people face the risk of injury from drowsy driving.

What should drivers look out for?

It may seem surprising, but drowsy driving is a significant issue. And drivers must be aware of the warning signs.

Other drivers on the road could be driving drowsy if they:

  • Swerve or drift from their lanes
  • Disregard any traffic signs or signals
  • Follow the car in front of them too closely
  • Change their speed excessively
  • Hit rumble strips without reacting

Pennsylvania drivers should also take caution when sharing the road with semi-trucks. Truck drivers are one of the groups that drive drowsy most often, and losing control of such large vehicles can create serious risks.

However, be aware of how alert you are too

Unfortunately, almost everyone is at risk of driving drowsy in their lifetime. Therefore, all Pennsylvania drivers should understand the signs of drowsy driving they could exhibit as well.

Everyone should avoid getting behind the wheel if they:

  • Cannot focus their vision or mind on the task at hand
  • Yawn repeatedly behind the wheel
  • Find themselves veering from their lane

Individuals know when they are tired. And if they recognize those signs, they should not drive. Instead, individuals could call a friend to give them a ride or contact a ride-share service. That way, they help keep themselves and other drivers on the road safe.