Driving While Tired or Sleep Deprived

  • Published
  • By Capt. James W. Parker
  • 117th Security Forces Squadron

We’ve all done it. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. And, for the most part, most of us have gotten away with it. It just always seemed that we could tough it out or we would be fine and push through. I’ve heard it a million times, and so have you. “That won’t happen to me. I’ll be fine. I can make it.” But, driving while tired or sleep deprived is an extremely dangerous thing to do, not only for yourself, but also for those around you.

Recently, we lost one of our military family members to this very issue. He was a happy, vibrant, and smart young man. He was a father to a beautiful little girl, and a son to a very caring family. Though no one else was physically injured in the accident, our brother did not make it. His loss is painful and felt by all that had the good fortune to have known him.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “drowsy driving has been implicated in over 100,000 vehicle crashes per year, with approximately 1,500 of those resulting in a loss of life.” Julia Eddington, a New York auto industry freelance writer, reported in one of her recent articles that, “UCLA’s sleep center explained that while we can put off eating when hungry or drinking when thirsty, our body’s drive to sleep is so strong that eventually it’ll force us to sleep, even if the conditions are less than ideal.” To illustrate this, the CDC stated that, “an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.”

Correlating that statement with the most recent U.S. census reports, the number of sleep deprived drivers on U.S. roadways is a staggering 13 million. People who get very little sleep, people on medications, shift workers, commercial drivers, and drivers with untreated sleep disorders are the most likely victims of falling asleep at the wheel, however, all of us are susceptible to this tragedy.

Some of the signs of driving drowsy, according to the CDC, are “yawning or blinking frequently, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, missing your exit, drifting from your lane or riding the rumble strip on the side of the road.” If you, or your passengers, notice any of these signs occurring during your drive, take the time to pull over and get some rest. Have someone else drive. Or, find somewhere to sleep for a while. Regardless of your plan of action to combat being overly tired when driving, please make the conscious decision to keep yourself, your passengers and others on the roadway safe, because there is no destination that cannot wait a few hours for you to arrive safely.



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research on Drowsy Driving. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Drowsy+Driving


Edington, J., 2018. Five Signs You’re too tired to Drive. Retrieved from https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-news/1530/five-signs-youre-too-tired-to-drive/


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/index.html