Safety Moment: Drowsy Driving —- Death by zzzzzz

by | Jun 1, 2016

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It is late afternoon. You just finished cleaning up the last of the gear from Scout camp. The activities of the past few days have worn you down. The closing campfire ran late last night and you had an early morning to start breaking down camp. You cannot wait to be home. As you climb in your vehicle, the boys are asleep before you get to the main road. You roll down the window and turn up the radio, grabbing a little something to nibble on to combat the heaviness of your eyes. Sound familiar?


Stop… Did You Know? Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the following consequences from drowsy driving:

  • 100,000 crashes annually
  • 1,550 deaths (and, according to the CDC, the actual total may be as high as 5,000-6,000 yearly fatalities)
  • 71,000 injuries
  • $12.5 billion in monetary losses


Consider also these sobering statistics. Studies show that being awake for more than 18 hours results in an impairment of your mental faculties equal to a blood alcohol level of .05. If you are awake for 20 hours, that becomes equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .08 (which is enough to get a person convicted of a DUI).

Returning to our example of the drive home from Scout camp, there are several signs that it is time for a driver to stop and rest or to change drivers:Safety Blog Drowzzz

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable


If you notice any of these signs while driving, it is much better to stop in a safe place and rest than it is to continue driving. Turning on the radio or opening the window are not effective means of keeping you alert. The following countermeasures will help keep you and the Scouts that are with you safe:

    • Get adequate sleep (7-9 hours)
    • Schedule proper breaks while driving-about every 100 miles to every two hours
    • Arrange for a proper number of adults to share driving
    • Have a “fresh” driver available for the drive home
    • Be aware of medications which might cause drowsiness
    • Perhaps most importantly, if you feel tired while driving (see signs above):
        • Stop driving
        • Take a nap
        • Exchange drivers


Contributed by: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Risk Management Division