When Sleep Deprivation Becomes A Public Health Hazard

Getting enough sleep can be a life-or-death issue.

You probably know that drunk driving, drugged driving and distracted driving is dangerous. But the dangers of drowsy driving are less well known. Driving while sleepy is linked to about 83,000 crashes a year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On average, this includes 886 fatal crashes and 37,000 injury crashes annually.

The solution to drowsy driving seems simple (stop driving while sleepy!), but the causes are more complex and hard to predict. Shift work, sleep disorders and sleep deprivation can all contribute to drowsy driving incidents.

In a panel hosted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on May 10, Huffington Post President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington, Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sleep medicine expert Charles Czeisler and Jay Winsten of Harvard’s Center for Health Communication discussed the dangers of driving while sleepy, as well as how to raise awareness about this potentially fatal road hazard. Richard Knox, a health and science journalist at WBUR, moderated the panel.

This panel is presented by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with The Huffington Post.

CLARIFICATION: This post was updated to use the word "crashes" instead of "accidents," to align with messaging from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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