Drowsy driving cases on the rise in Utah

Mar 21, 2023, 8:25 AM | Updated: Oct 19, 2023, 12:46 pm

Drowsy Driving...

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new AAA study shows many of us don’t know how sleepy we are behind the wheel.

Driving drowsy is comparable to driving intoxicated or impaired behind the wheel, and unfortunately, the Utah Highway Patrol said when pulling people over, drivers aren’t quick to admit that they are drowsy. And the study shows just that — that most of us don’t really know how tired we are.

Although it’s likely underreported, research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that up to 21% of all police-reported fatal crashes involved drowsy driving. And even more recent research found that drivers underestimate their level of fatigue, leading them to drive on the road when they are better off stopping for a break.

In Utah, drowsy driving was the cause of 10 fatal crashes in 2021, which is up from the past five years.

“The person is still impaired when they’re fatigued; they’re not recognizing what’s going on around them, what’s going on inside the vehicle, and performing the basic functions of driving that need to happen,” said UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden. “And so, fatigue driving is a big problem and people need to be aware of it.”

“We need to take that time away from our busy, fast-paced lives to do the things to help keep us safe, but especially too when we’re traveling with family, loved ones, and friends, we’ve seen crashes that not only just end badly for us, but for them as well,” he added.

The study was done by observing drivers in a 150-mile simulated nighttime highway, including rest areas. It found that the level of drowsiness increased throughout the driving experiment. Seventy-five percent of drivers in the study refused to take a break. Also, 75% of the drivers were found to be moderately to severely drowsy by the end of it.

Remember, being awake enough to drive safely doesn’t mean blasting the music or rolling down the windows. Sometimes, it takes pulling over, taking a nap on a long road trip, and traveling during times of the day when you are normally awake.

Related: Zero Fatalities urges road users to stay alert as the clocks move ahead


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Stacks of fireworks are seen in a TNT tent on Redwood Road, officials issue warnings about fire dan...

Tammy Kikuchi

Highest level of fire concern: Officials urge people to be cautious ahead of Pioneer Day

As fire danger is at its highest level, officials asked the public to be mindful and follow fire restrictions for the Pioneer Day holiday.

2 hours ago

people at slc airport shown, microsoft outage affecting air travel...

Kennedy Camarena

Microsoft outage causes Utahns to experience airline traffic

A Microsoft outage has affected people worldwide. Utahns were not excluded on Thursday morning when flight delays started due to the outage.

9 hours ago

A view overlooking Park City is seen on the sixth day of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday...

Heather Kelly

Park City and Salt Lake City together are finalists for Sundance Film Festival

Park City and Salt Lake City are one step closer to becoming Sundance Film Festival's new home, after 40 years of being in Park City.

10 hours ago

Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox celebrate Pioneer Day and wave to onlookers as they ride i...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

‘We need more community’: Why Cox says this Pioneer Day can be unifying for Utahns

'We need more community' Utah Gov. Spencer Cox says that this coming Pioneer Day can be unifying for Utahns

15 hours ago

Daniel Martinez sentenced for Draper party shooting...


Daniel Martinez sentenced for Draper party shooting

Daniel Martinez was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in jail for the deaths of 2 people at a party at an Airbnb in Draper.

16 hours ago

FILE - Simone Biles and the U.S. women celebrate as the 2024 team is named at the United States Gym...

Mary Culbertson, KSLTV

How you can get in on the 2034 Olympic announcement party

As the anticipated decision by the Olympic Committee is approaching here are the places to watch and listen to the announcement.

24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Drowsy driving cases on the rise in Utah