(COLO) – Distractions while driving aren’t always something we hold in our hands or sit in our passenger seat, sometimes our body’s physical condition, like drowsiness, can be a distraction and prevent us from focusing. 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.
“Fatigue impacts your reaction time, judgment and vision, basically shutting down the senses you need to be safe on the roads,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It may not be convenient to get a hotel or pull over in a safe place for a nap, but it may make the difference in saving your life.”
After 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, there has only been a slight decline in 2022. According to Patrol distracted driving crash data, there were 88 crashes due to fatigue or a driver falling asleep in 2021. In 2022, these crashes decreased slightly by 4.5% (84 crashes).
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 an obstacle.
“Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep when it comes to driving,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “If you are sleep-deprived, put down the keys.”
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.