Drowsy Driving

Justin Pradere, Co-Editor in Chief

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Senior Paris Carr was on her way to school in her GMC Sierra Denali at 6:30 a.m. 30 minutes into the drive, Carr drifted off to sleep for a few seconds. When she opened her eyes, she found herself bumping into a car.

Driving drunk or texting while driving are both well-known causes of car accidents, but national attention has recently turned to a lesser-known danger: drowsy driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are the direct result of driver fatigue. This results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses annually.

“The effects of insufficient amount of sleep can make driving highly dangerous. You feel tired, you can’t concentrate and focus on tasks. You are more likely to make mistakes due to lack of focus. You are likely to fall asleep and get into an accident,” nurse practitioner Josefina Martinez said.

Carr describes her minor accident as “a wake-up call.” She explains as she started to doze off, it was hard for her to keep her eyes open. She usually starts blasting her car radio and the A/C system. On SW 117th Avenue, near the entrance to Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, she began to press the brake to stop at the traffic light and she started to let go of the brake and she fell asleep, bumping into the car in front of her.

Students may often prioritize rigorous academic and extracurricular schedules over sleep, leading them to drive drowsy. 56 percent of licensed teens in the U.S. have driven when they felt too tired to drive their best at least once and almost 10 percent have fallen asleep completely while driving, according to a study by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Drowsiness doesn’t just affect the drivers operating on little to no sleep. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that drivers who sleep less than eight hours nightly—which, according to a TERRAByte survey, includes 82 percent of TERRA students—are 33 percent more likely to crash than those who sleep eight or more hours nightly.

Students experience the effects of sleep deprivation in different ways while driving, but common symptoms include difficulty staying alert, focusing on objects and seeing things at a greater distance.

“Driving drowsy is dangerous and not enjoyable,” Carr said. “It’s really stressful to stay awake. It makes me grumpy. I get in a bad mood all while being super tired.

As the issue of drowsy driving becomes more well-known, students have become more aware of the risk they take in getting behind the wheel without sufficient sleep.

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Drowsy Driving