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Colorado crashes due to driver fatigue more than double in a year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- If Daylight Saving Time ending has you feeling groggy, you’re not alone. A concerning jump in driver fatigue has Colorado State Patrol (CSP) sounding the alarm.

According to CSP crash data, crashes due to fatigue or a driver falling asleep have more than doubled in just the last year, from 27 in 2020 to 59 in 2021.

With drowsy driving having a lot of similarities to drunk driving, State Patrol says it's a dangerous idea to get behind the wheel when you’re tired.

"Unfortunately, many troopers and officers, we've seen those incidents where somebody just didn't even brake when a crash occurred because they were asleep at the wheel," said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis.

November 7 – 14, 2022 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which deliberately comes just days after we all changed our clocks.

"We're starting to see it, especially when it gets a little bit darker, a little bit earlier, maybe people aren't sleeping quite as well," said Trooper Lewis. "That shift in their bodies, the dynamics of when they go to sleep, or when that sun is out. Ultimately, it comes down to making sure people are aware of how much sleep they're getting, and making sure they're listening to their body, especially behind the wheel if they start feeling fatigued."

The National Sleep Foundation provided some of the top signs of drowsy driving, that are similar to signs of drunk driving:

  • Heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
  • Frequent yawning
  • Daydreaming and trouble focusing
  • Drifting back and forth between lanes
  • Hitting a rumble strip
  • Drooping head
  • Poor recall of the last few miles
  • Missing signs or exits 
  • Restlessness, irritability, and aggressiveness including tailgating

"When folks are maybe leaving their lanes, going outside of those designated lanes that are out there, or are weaving, all of these things can be signs and indicators that it's time to pull over and take a break and even take a nap in a safe location,” said Trooper Lewis.

Shift workers and commercial drivers are at extreme risk of driving drowsy, but anyone with a poor night of sleep could be a victim.

“We don’t often talk about fatigue and drowsiness, but there is a steady amount of people traveling on our Colorado roadways experiencing sleep-related issues,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Shift workers and commercial drivers are at extreme risk, but anyone who struggles with getting enough and regular amounts of sleep can be impacted.”

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