A person behind the wheel of a car on little sleep can be a danger to themselves and others. Statistics from the National Sleep Foundation state that 10 percent of drivers have fallen asleep while driving and one in six deadly traffic accidents involve a drowsy driver.
The signs of drowsy driving include difficulty focusing, yawning, trouble keeping your head up and drifting in your driving lane. Dr. Thomas M. Siler with SSM Health Sleep Services says that the signs can lead to micro-sleeping. Micro-sleeping is when a person actually falls asleep for a few seconds while driving.
Cody Walker knows this first hand. He spends a lot of time in his car. "It's what I have to do." He lives in Jackson, Missouri. He works in St Peters. "Two hours each way."
Two places separated by over 100 miles. "My car has 382,000 miles on it." He's been making the journey for years.
"Technically I've been driving up here for 12 years." But staying fully alert during the commute remains an issue. "It's not that you fall asleep.You lose your focus." He deals with drowsy driving. "A couple of nights a week I'll get hit with it really really hard. Sometimes on those moments you'll feel yourself kinda of like wake up and you'll kind of panic."
He's tried several things to keep his eyes open. "Rolling down the window. I was even sticking my head out the window a little bit."
These days, he listens to podcasts. "Just have that going the whole time at a pretty decent level just kinda like to be able to hear the traffic, hear the podcast and just make it."
He knows drowsy driving will probably be an ongoing issue for him. Moving closer to his job maybe the only real solution. "I mean I love working where I work so it's worth it."
The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to eight hours of sleep to be well rested for driving a vehicle long distance.