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New Data from the National Sleep Foundation Show a Majority of Americans Drive While Drowsy

For Immediate Release
Contact: Stephanie Kohn

New Data from the National Sleep Foundation Show a Majority of Americans Drive While Drowsy

The 2022 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week® campaign urges Americans to Sleep First. Drive Alert.


Washington, D.C. (November 2, 2022) – Today, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) released results of a new survey highlighting individual attitudes and behaviors towards drowsy driving. The survey showed that while 95% of Americans believe drowsy driving is risky, more than 37 million motorists are estimated to drive drowsy once a year or more.

The survey, fielded earlier this fall, is part of the 15th anniversary of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, NSF’s annual campaign that seeks to help Americans get the sleep they need and reduce the numbers of drivers who get behind the wheel while sleep deprived.

Drowsy driving is a public health issue and linked to thousands of car crashes each year, killing an estimated 6,400 people annually in the U.S. alone. However, the recent data from NSF show drowsy driving is common among American adults, indicating these numbers may be underestimated. Today, more than 6 in 10 drivers admit to having driven a car when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open, a projected 150+ million US motorists.

In addition, the survey found:

  • Nearly 20% of drivers are overly confident in their ability to drive after sleeping only 2 hours or less the previous night.
  • Drivers who get NSF’s recommended amount of sleep per night (7-9 hours for most adults) are less likely to drive drowsy.
  • Drowsy driving also may be an issue of sleep health equity, with members of historically excluded groups being at higher risk for experiencing drowsy driving. Understanding the social determinants of drowsy driving is an ongoing effort at NSF.

“Drowsy driving is impaired driving,” said Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, Vice President, Research and Scientific Affairs, National Sleep Foundation. “We see that while most Americans believe drowsy driving is risky, they still drive when not fully alert. The good news is – drowsy driving is preventable.”

There are steps people can take to help lessen the risk:

  • Get the recommended amount of sleep before you drive.
    • While the feeling of a good night’s sleep varies from individual to individual, NSF recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and 8-10 hours for teens.
  • Plan your long trips with a companion.
    • A companion passenger can not only help look for early warning signs of drowsiness, but also help with the driving when needed. A good driving companion is someone who stays awake to talk to you and will be aware of your alertness.
  • Schedule regular stops for your trip, every 100 miles or two hours.
  • Be mindful of warning signs of drowsy driving.
    • Frequent blinking and yawning or having difficulty with lane and speed control are common signs that you may be driving while drowsy.

“At NSF, we are dedicated to helping everyone prioritize their sleep,” said John Lopos, CEO, National Sleep Foundation. “As we mark the 15th anniversary of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, we hope to educate the public on the importance of getting the sleep they need and reduce the number of drivers who choose to get behind the wheel while sleep deprived. If you are not getting enough of the quality sleep you need to be your Best Slept Self®, you may not be fit to operate a motor vehicle.”

NSF’s drowsy driving prevention resources are available on Drowsy Driving Prevention Week 2022 sponsors include Schneider National and Waymo. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Drowsy Driving Prevention Project, Higi, and the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office are collaborators of the campaign. NSF independently produces Drowsy Driving Prevention Week® and all related official educational content.

Join NSF to help prevent drowsy driving by sharing the campaign’s message on social media using the hashtag #SleepFirst. For science-based general sleep health resources and easy-to-use tips and tools, visit


About the National Sleep Foundation

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. Founded in 1990, the NSF is committed to advancing excellence in sleep health theory, research and practice.