(COLORADO) — The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) is warning drivers that distractions while driving can come from our physical condition and not just externally.

According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol and can make drivers three times more likely to be in a car crash if they are fatigued.

After seeing a concerning jump in driver fatigue and drivers asleep at the wheel causing serious injury and even fatal crashes in 2021, CSP said there has only been a slight decline in 2022. Data showed there were 88 crashes due to fatigue or a driver falling asleep in 2021 and a slight decrease to 84 crashes in 2022.

“Fatigue impacts your reaction time, judgment, and vision, basically shutting down the
senses you need to be safe on the roads,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the
Colorado State Patrol. “It may not be convenient to get a hotel or pull over in a safe
place for a nap, but it may make the difference in saving your life.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy drivers may find themselves
weaving back and forth between lanes, unable to maintain the right speed, and unable to
keep an appropriate distance from other vehicles. They also may be unable to react in
time to avoid an obstacle.

The National Sleep Foundation said some of the top signs of feeling drowsy are:

  • 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

CSP said if you do notice the signs of drowsiness, pull over and take a 20-minute nap in a safe place.

“Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep when it comes to driving,”
stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “If you are sleep-
deprived, put down the keys.”