Stopping Drowsy Drivers

Dr. Marc Kruger
Dr. Marc Kruger

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Hundreds of crashes happen on Hawaii's roads every year, all because of the same thing. And yet, nothing is being done to prevent these sometimes deadly accidents from taking place.

There have been many deadly crashes in the islands.

Some caused by drivers racing, others by drunk drivers.

But some doctors say, an even greater hazard comes from a different group that gets behind the wheel.

"That group of drivers is even more dangerous than legally drunk drivers," said Dr. Marc Kruger with the Pulmonary Sleep Disorders Center.

Studies have shown the reaction time of these drivers is even slower.

"It's not even completely slow reaction time but also poor judgement in making the wrong decision," added Kruger.

Drowsy driving, when your eyelids droop, and your head starts to nod, and pretty soon you're drifting off while at the wheel. It's caused by more than just the lack of one good night's sleep. But consistently missing out on restful sleep.

"That build up of sleep restriction will lead to a sleep deficit that will cause you to become sleepy during stimulating activities like being behind the wheel of a car," stated Kruger.

During one ten year period, about 6,500 crashes were related to fatigue on our roads.

While police put up DUI checkpoints to stop drunk drivers, there are no tests to show a driver they are too drowsy to drive.

At sleep centers, doctors identify medical problems keeping you from getting a good night's sleep. But behind the wheel, drivers should stop and rest, if they have difficulty focusing, have heavy eyelids or even start yawning repeatedly. And then make sure they make the time for sleep.

"Sleep is probably one of the first things busy people eliminate from their schedule," added Kruger.

While a third of the population nationwide admits to driving drowsy, at particular risk are teenagers, commercial drivers, and those who work night shifts.

For more eye opening facts about drowsy driving prevention, click on the Driving Drowsy link.