Road Safety

Road Safety

Sleepy Driving: The silent killer on Indian roads


Driving when you are sleepy & exhausted? Well, you're as much of a safety hazard as a drunk driver, says the AAA. And it's not just the AAA who's saying so. Even the NHTSA agrees. In fact, "you're more likely to die from drowsy driving than from texting while driving, distracted driving or drunk driving combined", according to the CSI Research Center.

The effects of drowsiness are similar to alcohol - it will make your driving inputs (steering, acceleration, braking) poorer, destroy your reaction times & blur your thought processes. The AAA says that 20% of all fatal accidents in the USA are due to drowsiness! We can only imagine what the stats are like for India which has a higher road accident rate. Problem is, no one researches this out here. Headlines only scream 'speeding car hits biker'. The Times of India has merely 800 results for 'sleepy driver' (link), but a whopping 2.23 lakh for 'speeding car' (link).

Get this, drivers who are deprived of 4+ hours of sleep are 10.2 times more accident prone! Some say that if you've been awake for ~24 hours, you are a more dangerous driver than a drunk one. Truth is, you could nod off without realising it if you are terribly fatigued! The problem is compounded because there's no way of catching sleepy drivers (like how cops nab drunks with breathalysers). No one went to jail for drowsy driving, did they? On a related note, 9 out of 10 USA cops admitted to pulling over drivers on suspicion of drunk driving, but the drivers were actually drowsy (source).

We've always discussed the perils of drunk driving, why one should buckle up, the importance of safety features & crash test ratings, yet this topic surprisingly doesn't have a dedicated thread on Team-BHP!

Symptoms from the Sleep Foundation:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering / disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few km 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

From the AAA Slides:



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