Message Monday - Sleep deprived is no way to drive

8-14 message mondayDo you sometimes wonder if the Sandman is on vacation? In our busy world, there are often nights when we have too much going on to get a full eight hours of sleep. If sleep deprivation is “normal” for you, you could be overlooking the dangers of not being alert behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving is not just falling asleep at the wheel. It is a profound impairment that mimics alcohol-impaired driving in many ways. Drowsiness leads to slower reaction times, and impaired attention, mental processing, judgment, and decision making. Drowsiness can occur from accumulating sleep debt (typically less than 6 hours a night) across multiple nights, or from only one night of not sleeping.

Precise counts of crashes caused by drowsy driving are not yet possible. Crash investigators can look for certain clues that drowsiness was likely to have contributed to a driver error, but these clues are not always identifiable or conclusive. Current estimates range from 2 percent to 20 percent of annual traffic deaths attributable to driver drowsiness. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, annually on average from 2009 to 2013, there were more than 72,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers, injuring more than an estimated 41,000 people, and killing more than 800.

Driving on five hours of sleep is like driving drunk -

The fatality count of 185 is an increase of six since last Monday. In all of 2016, 405 people were killed on Iowa highways. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at

I did not realize how detrimental sleep deprivation can be until it happened to me. I didn't know I was sleep deprived until after an event, and during subsequent medical evaluation it was confirmed that I was, and that my current CPAP therapy was being mismanaged. Needless to say it was corrected and I am back on track. DO NOT take lack of sleep or insufficient sleep lightly. It will catch up to you eventually and the results could be deadly.

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