(COLO) – Whether impacted by insomnia, a disrupted sleep schedule or even the end of Daylight Savings, not getting enough sleep before driving is a dangerous idea. According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol and can make drivers three times more likely to be in a car crash if they are fatigued.
“Operating a vehicle safely requires a person’s full attention and focus,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. ”Fatigue physically and mentally impacts the abilities of a driver – it has effects on a driver’s attention span, judgment, coordination and reaction time.”
Colorado State Troopers saw a concerning jump in driver fatigue and drivers asleep at the wheel causing serious injury and even fatal crashes in 2021. According to Patrol crash data, there were 27 lane violation crashes due to fatigue or a driver falling asleep in 2020. In 2021, these crashes more than doubled to 59 (118% increase).
According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy drivers may find themselves weaving back and forth between lanes, unable to maintain the right speed and unable to keep an appropriate distance from other vehicles. They also may be unable to react in time to avoid a hazard.
With lane violation-related crashes on the rise, the Colorado State Patrol wants to send a message this Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (November 7 – 14, 2022) to never underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep when it comes to driving. If you are sleep-deprived, put down the keys.
“We don’t often talk about fatigue and drowsiness, but there is a steady amount of people traveling on our Colorado roadways experiencing sleep-related issues,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Shift workers and commercial drivers are at extreme risk, but anyone who struggles with getting enough and regular amounts of sleep can be impacted.”
If you do notice signs of drowsiness, pull over and take a 20-minute nap in a safe place. The National Sleep Foundation provided some of the top signs of drowsy driving, which are similar to signs of drunk driving
- Heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
- Frequent yawning
- Daydreaming and trouble focusing
- Drifting back and forth between lanes
- Hitting a rumble strip
- Drooping head
- Poor recall of the last few miles
- Missing signs or exits
- Restlessness, irritability, and aggressiveness including tailgating
Troopers continue to take a low tolerance approach to lane violations while launching a yearlong campaign called “Stay in Your Lane.” This campaign is designed to remind people to control their lane position based on their current driving environment. This campaign also aims to bring attention to three of the most common and avoidable behaviors that contribute to lane violations – driving aggressively, driving distracted or driving while impaired.
ABOUT THE COLORADO STATE PATROL
Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs. In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more.