The Scary Truth About Drowsy Driving

Every 30 seconds. That’s how often, on average, a car accident caused by fatigue occurs in the United States. Does that make you as nervous as it makes us? Well, buckle up (no pun intended). We’re just getting started.

Have you ever drifted off while driving? Even for a split second? More than 56 million Americans admit to falling asleep at the wheel each month. That’s why it’s no surprise that there are more accidents caused by fatigue than by alcohol and drugs combined. Studies show that 20 consecutive hours without sleep can make you drive as poorly as someone with a blood alcohol concentration of .08%. Yes, that is the legal limit in all states.

Fatigued drivers are involved in an estimated 328,000 car accidents annually. 6,400 of these result in death. There are two primary causes of drowsy driving accidents. The first is falling asleep completely at the wheel. Although uncommon, it does happen. The second is a far more frequent event called a microsleep. This brief, involuntary episode of “sleep” usually lasts for just a few seconds.

If you’re on the couch trying to stay awake for tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones, an instance of microsleep is harmless. At worst, you might have to rewind a few seconds to reveal Jon Snow’s fate. An instance of microsleep that happens while you’re driving, however, is extremely dangerous. In fact, it can be the last thing you ever do.

It’s nighttime. You’re tired. You can feel yourself blinking more frequently than usual, struggling to stay focused on the road ahead. Yet you force yourself to carry on. Sound familiar? This is when the vast majority of microsleep incidents occur.

Microsleep is caused by (drumroll, please) sleep deprivation. Okay, we bet you saw that one coming. But did you know that you’re 300% more likely to be involved in a car accident today if you slept fewer than five hours last night? Operating on fewer than four hours of ZZZs? Your risk skyrockets 1,150%.

The key to reducing your chance of microsleep is simple: eliminate sleep deprivation. We all know that’s often easier said than done. We actually created Som to make a good night’s sleep easily accessible after our co-founder’s microsleep incident behind the wheel. If you have trouble sleeping - or simply want to  clock more quality time in bed - incorporate Som (and good sleep hygiene) into your nightly routine. The stats speak for themselves. Sleep isn’t something we can afford to skimp on.

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