Feeling sleepy may seem more of an inconvenience than a potential hazard for people in Oklahoma. However, getting behind the wheel while drowsy may put drivers, their passengers and those with whom they share the road in danger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving may occur due to any number of factors, including not getting enough sleep, shift work, certain medical conditions, medications or drinking alcohol. While any driver who has not gotten adequate rest may be at risk for drowsy driving, the risk may be greater for shift workers who work long hours or the night shift, commercial motor vehicle operators and people with untreated sleep disorders.

Even if motorists do not fall asleep while driving, getting behind the wheel while sleepy or fatigued may still impair their driving abilities. Drowsiness may have an adverse effect on drivers’ ability to make sound decisions, impair their attentiveness and delay their reaction times. According to the National Security Council, drivers who have been awake for 20 hours or more experience a similar level of impairment to those with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%.

Getting behind the wheel while drowsy makes drivers three times as likely to get into motor vehicle collisions, which may result in serious injuries or death for themselves or others. While federal estimates suggest as many as 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths result from drowsy driving accidents each year, the actual statistics may be significantly greater. In fact, researchers estimate that the prevalence of drowsiness-involved fatal collisions is underreported by 350% or more.