Several studies have found that driving while drowsy is almost as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. There is no doubt that driving drowsy is dangerous, and yet it is alarmingly common.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 6,000 out of 150,000 people reports falling asleep behind the wheel in the last month. That is why all North Carolina drivers must be aware of the factors that can increase the risk of drowsy driving, so they can take steps to prevent them.

1. Lack of sleep

A lack of sleep would naturally lead to drowsy driving. This is a commonly known risk, yet roughly 35% of American adults report getting less than seven hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep seems to be an epidemic among many American adults.

And that soon may get worse. Studies have found that drowsy driving and fatal accidents increase by 6% after daylight savings time. Losing an hour of sleep during daylight savings time could significantly increase the rate of drowsy driving.

2. The time of day

Like a lack of sleep, it is natural to assume that driving late at night could increase the risk of drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that it is true that most accidents involving drowsy driving occur between midnight and 6 a.m.

However, drivers should also be aware that drowsy driving can increase during their commutes as well, for a few reasons:

  • Driving to work in the early morning and driving home after a long day at work both carry a high risk of drowsy driving;
  • Rush hour increases the number of vehicles on the road, as well as the chance of slow traffic that can affect tiredness; and
  • More cars on the road often lead to more hazards on the road.

3. Driving alone

Passengers can sometimes be a source of distraction behind the wheel. However, driving alone can increase the chances that a driver could fall asleep behind the wheel. This is especially common on long road trips.

North Carolina drivers must be aware of these risk factors so they can help keep the roads safer in the coming weeks, as well as year-round.