Sleep while driving kills: A wake-up call for road safety

by Lorraine Williamson
going to sleep while driving

In the bustling world of today, where everyone seems to be constantly on the move, the importance of a good night’s sleep often takes a backseat. Unfortunately, this negligence can have dire consequences, especially when it comes to road safety.

The Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) has recently shed light on a pressing issue: sleep-related problems contributing to fatal accidents. This alarming revelation calls for immediate attention, urging us to reevaluate our habits and prioritise adequate rest. In this article, we look into the findings of the DGT’s blog and the subsequent campaign initiated to raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving.

The disturbing statistics

The DGT’s blog, dated October 26, 2023, presented unsettling statistics: sleep problems were present in 7% of fatal accidents. More shockingly, driving while deprived of sleep or under the influence of alcohol multiplies the chances of a traffic accident by five. These numbers are a stark reminder of the lethal consequences that can result from drowsy driving.

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The link between sleep and accidents

The connection between inadequate sleep and accidents is further emphasised by data from the Ages 2022 survey. In Spain, 9.7% of the population had consumed sedative-hypnotics, either with or without a prescription, in the last 30 days. Additionally, 7.2% of the population admitted to consuming these substances daily. The report from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences and Toxicology revealed that 14% of the 1,214 fatalities in traffic accidents in 2022 had consumed psychotropic drugs. These findings bring home the urgency of addressing the issue of drowsy driving.

According to the DGT campaign, one of the main factors that cause drowsiness is the consumption of such medications. Spain leads the world consumption of Benzodiazepines, with 7.2% of the population consuming them daily. This group of medications is made up of antihistamines, muscle relaxants, antidepressants and anxiolytics. That is why it is important to obtain prior information from doctors and pharmacists before suffering its effects while driving.

The awareness campaign

In response to these alarming statistics, the DGT has launched a comprehensive awareness campaign. The campaign employs a multi-faceted approach, utilising social networks, digital media, and radio spots to disseminate crucial information. These messages emphasise the gravity of falling asleep behind the wheel, highlighting the potentially fatal consequences.

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