Sleep Driving

Last Updated: October 21, 2018

Definition - What does Sleep Driving mean?

Sleep driving refers to a motorist falling asleep while operating a vehicle on the road. Young male drivers are twice as likely as women to experience spells of sleepiness while driving. The risk of sleep driving is compounded by other factors such as carrying small children and/or a rotating shift schedule. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is no definitive measure to identify sleepiness related to crashes. Sleep driving can be an incidental circumstance linked to a single factor, or combination of factors. These can include extended work hours, moonlighting (second jobs), and/or consuming alcohol coupled with any medication, which can induce relaxing or sedating effects, and medical conditions such as sleep apnea.

WorkplaceTesting explains Sleep Driving

Sleep driving is of particular concern to companies who employ drivers for any purpose as it not only risks the employees, but could put the company at risk for a lawsuit. Sleep driving is a prevalent and common problem for many people and this places the sleepy driver and other motorists on the road in jeopardy. A vast majority of people are sleep deprived, receiving less than the recommended amount of seven-to-nine hours of healthy sleep. For these reasons, drivers experience decreased alertness, slowed reflexes, and impaired judgment (similar to driving drunk) that lead to potentially treacherous accidents. Officials often lack necessary training and appropriate equipment to detect and/or prevent sleep driving incidents. However, highway collisions and crashes can lend evidence to suspected cases of sleep-related fatalities in their aftermath.

Police investigators will determine the time of accident in which a large number of reported accidents happen, typically late afternoon or during early morning hours. Other validating evidence includes residual skid marks at the accident scene to suggest avoidance of a crash and/or the fact that the driver was traveling alone. Sleep driving encompasses many independent variables associated with people’s lifestyles. Busy and overlapping work schedules, personal commitments and obligations, and even addictive behavior (alcohol and medication) contribute adversely to sleep driving. Also, people diagnosed with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome are at heightened risk for being involved in a car accident.

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