Sleep deprivation can have serious, even fatal, impact on everything from our productivity at work to driving a car. The NHTSA estimates that in 2017 alone, there were 91,000 reported car accidents that involved drowsy drivers. Those crashes contributed to the injuries of around 50,000 people and resulted in nearly 800 deaths.

A recent study by Gunther Mitsubishi, working off the 2022 County Health Rankings, looked at a wide-array of data and ranked the 50 states in terms of who has the drowsiest drivers. The following factors were used in this study:

  • The percentage of people who suffer from insufficient sleep
  • The percentage of motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people
Photo Credit: chris-mueller, Getty Stock
Photo Credit: chris-mueller, Getty Stock

Simply put, you want your state ranked low on this list.

As it turns out, Iowa was ranked 39th, making it among the safest states in which to drive when it comes to sleep-deprived drivers. The Hawkeye State has an insufficient sleep-rate of 33%, combined with a 2.5% rate of motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people.

Compare that to California, #1 on the list, which boasts an insufficient sleep-rate of 33% and a whopping 27.2% rate of motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people. Now, it doesn't take a complex study to realize the population density of The Golden State far and away exceeds that of The Hawkeye State, but it does provide some peace of mind no less.

27% of driving deaths in Iowa involve alcohol, and the number of driving deaths in the state was 1,723 in 2019. Compare those stats to Illinois, #22 on the list with an insufficient sleep-rate of 34%, 7.9% rate of motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people, and where 29% of driving deaths involve alcohol.

Wisconsin finds itself in between Iowa and Illinois at #30 on the list.

The top five "most dangerously drowsy states in which to drive" comes out to: California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia at #5. Vermont ranked as the "least dangerously drowsy state," with South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Utah rounding out the top five.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Vassios, Unsplash
Des Moines, IA. Photo Credit: Nicholas Vassios, Unsplash

Gunther Mitsubishi's study concludes by commenting on the lack of sleep's adverse effects on one's driving:

Lack of sleep can affect your attentiveness on the road, as well as negatively impact your coordination and judgment while driving [....] Going too long without proper sleep can affect your driving ability in much the same way as consuming alcohol.

Being awake for at least 18 hours without sleep has around the same cognitive impact as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%, with 0.08% being grounds for a DUI in Iowa.

View the full study by Gunther Mitsubishi here!

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