driving car on highway, close up of hands on steering wheel

Drowsy Driving Accidents: Common Causes and Warning Signs

Drowsy driving accidents destroy lives. They are also preventable. Yet, countless people every day drive while drowsy on Missouri roads and across the nation. If you drive, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe by understanding why drowsy accidents happen and learning how to identify the warning signs of drowsy driving. 

Why Drowsy Driving Accidents Happen

The actual number of drowsy driving cases is difficult to know when the driver perishes. What is known is that over 6,000 fatal crashes in the United States may be attributable to drowsy driving each year, even though the count based on police reports is far lower. 

In 2020, 600 drowsy driving accident deaths occurred, according to law enforcement agencies across the country. These numbers are shockingly high and lead directly to the question, “Why do these drowsy driving accidents occur?” 

Drowsy driving accidents happen because of various factors, each of which regularly occurs in Missouri at all levels of society, regardless of race and socioeconomic level.

Work Pressure

Work duties place significant demands on many throughout the state. Many workers are required to work late hours, sleep less than eight hours, and wake up early to repeat the same routine. Although these workers would like more rest, they cannot because of their job demands. At the end of the workday, they may find themselves driving in a state of drowsiness and eventually drift off to sleep.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are another common cause of drowsy driving. Sleep apnoea syndrome (SAS), which causes sufferers to start and stop breathing while sleeping, is reported to make its sufferers six times more likely to suffer a car accident due to drowsy driving. 


Many prescription drugs come with warnings relating to drowsiness and getting behind the wheel. Drowsiness can also occur when people use various over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or mixtures of substances. 

In the end, most drowsy driving accidents occur when a driver ignores approaching drowsiness and continues on their way. This negligence makes them liable for damages arising out of a car accident. 

Warning Signs 

With a little information, you can spot the warning signs of drowsiness and drowsy driving in others and yourself and do something about it. Common driving actions that indicate drowsy driving include:

  • Swerving in and out of lanes
  • Driving below the speed limit
  • Drifting to the side of the road 
  • Frequent yawning

If you notice a driver repeating these actions, it is likely they are drowsy and should be relieved. You can also spot drowsy drivers in other vehicles. They also swerve, drive below the speed limit, and drift onto the rumble strips on the sides and centerlines of roads. 

Who is at greatest risk of drowsy driving?

The Centers for Disease Control reports that various individuals are more at risk of driving drowsy than others, such as:

  • Teenage drivers
  • Drivers during the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.
  • Commercial truck drivers
  • Drivers who work long, double, or night shifts
  • Drivers with uncontrolled sleep disorders

In some unfortunate cases, drivers with too high a risk of drowsy driving may be banned from driving by their physician and the state.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

You and your loved ones deserve to be safe while out driving. Taking action when you recognize the signs of drowsiness in other drivers or yourself will save lives. If a drowsy driver hits you, contact a car accident lawyer to protect your right to compensation. 

Privette Law Office represents clients in all manner of personal injury cases throughout Southern Missouri.