With the busy holiday season approaching and less daylight to illuminate the roads, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is alerting motorists to the dangers of drowsy driving.

According to the NHTSA, in 2017 drowsy driving played a factor in 91,000 crashes and resulted in 50,000 injuries and 795 deaths. Between 2013 and 2017, more than 4,000 people died in crashes involving fatigued drivers. Most crashes within this category involve single drivers running off the road at high rates of speed and occur on rural roads or highways between midnight and 6 a.m or in the late afternoon.

“Fatigue has costly effects on the safety, health, and quality of life of the American public,” NHTSA said in an online report. “Whether fatigue is caused by sleep restriction due to a new baby waking every couple of hours, a late or long shift at work, hanging out late with friends, or a long and monotonous drive for the holidays – the negative outcomes can be the same. These include impaired cognition and performance, motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents, and health consequences.”

To prevent drowsy driving, the NHTSA recommends that motorists get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night, and that they refrain from driving after drinking alcohol or taking medications which may cause drowsiness. Drivers are also encouraged to travel with a friend or family member who can help divide time behind the wheel.

Drifting over lane markers and hitting rumble strips are common indicators that a driver is becoming tired. In such circumstances, drivers are encouraged to drink a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee or energy drinks, and to pull over for a 20 minute nap in a safe and well-lit area.

Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.