Why Drowsy Driving Is So Dangerous
The problem with sleep is, it will come no matter what you do. Drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel never plan to do so; it just happens. But before you reach the point of becoming so tired you are unable to stay awake, you enter the drowsy zone. Although being drowsy doesn’t seem like it poses too much of a threat, it actually does. Drowsiness can:
- Slow reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly.
- Make drivers less able to pay attention to the road.
- Affect a driver’s ability to make good decisions.
The side effects of drowsiness can lead to accidents either directly or indirectly, which can put your life—as well as others on the road—in danger. Additionally, drowsy driving could be a bigger and more common problem than you may think. Consider this:
- About 1 in 25 adult drivers, age 18 and over, report having fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimations, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 800 deaths, and 44,000 injuries in 2003.
Who Is Most Likely to Drive While Drowsy
Although anyone is at risk for driving while drowsy and creating serious accidents that could result in injuries and death, some are more likely than others to drive while drowsy, including:
- Shift workers who work the night shift or long shifts.
- Drivers with untreated sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea, that cause them to wake up several times during the night.
- Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as buses, tow trucks, and tractor-trailers.
- Drivers who do not get enough sleep.
- Drivers who use medication that may cause them to become drowsy.
Typically, drivers who receive less than six hours of sleep per day are more likely to become involved in car accidents due to drowsy driving.
Signs You Are Too Tired to Drive
If you’re riding down the road near a vehicle that is swerving, accelerating or stopping, or displaying similar types of dangerous driving behavior, there’s a chance the driver is either drowsy. But do you know the signs that you may be too tired to safely drive? You may be at risk for causing an accident due to drowsy driving if you:
- Begin to drift from your lane
- Frequently yawn or blink
- Miss an exit
- Have trouble remembering the past few miles you’ve traveled
- Hit a rumble strip on the side of the road
If you experience any of these drowsy driving signs, either change drivers or pull over. Ideally, taking a 15- to 20-minute nap can help to revitalize you and make driving safe again. However, if this isn’t possible, you may need to have someone else drive for you. If this isn’t an option, you may need to call someone to come and get you.
Although you can’t prevent every drowsy driving accident from taking place, you can decrease the likelihood by getting enough sleep. Additionally, avoiding alcohol and other drugs that can make a driver drowsy can help, along with receiving treatment for any sleep disorders you may have.
Drowsy Driving Victims Have Rights
If you were injured by a drowsy driver, it’s important to know that you have rights, and the attorneys at Kennedy Law Firm, LLP, want to help you fight for them. Call to schedule your appointment to speak with an attorney and find out what we may be able to do for you.