We hear about dangerous driving behaviors all the time. We are constantly reminded not to text or drink while driving. However, there is one distraction that we don’t pay as much attention to.

Driving while tired may be just as dangerous as drinking or texting. You should know how to recognize and prevent drowsy driving.

The statistics show a big problem

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has gathered frightening data about drowsy driving. Every year in New York state, almost 3,000 car crashes are caused by fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel. And that’s just the accidents where police determine drowsiness to be the cause.

Unlike drunk driving, there is no easy test to measure fatigue. You could get in an accident because you were too tired—but the police might not identify that cause, in which case it wouldn’t be recorded as a drowsy driving accident. Because of this uncertainty, there could be many more crashes every year due to drowsiness than the statistics show.

How can you keep yourself safe from drowsy driving?

We’ve all driven without enough sleep before. You might have stayed up too late the night before—or maybe you took a medication that causes drowsiness. Suddenly your eyes feel very heavy and you can’t seem to stop yawning.

In the U.S., 1 in 25 drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days. You should avoid drowsy driving by:

  • Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night
  • Knowing the side effects of any medications you are taking
  • Talking to your doctor about potential sleep disorders
  • Keeping good sleep habits—a consistent schedule is key to reducing drowsiness
  • If you know that are too tired to drive, find a ride from someone else or take the bus

Being drowsy may be just as dangerous as other distractions. If you wouldn’t text or drink while driving, why would you drive when you can barely stay awake? You should consider changing your sleep behaviors to prevent accidents.