Posted on: 20 September 2016
Most people are aware of the dangers of getting behind the wheel of their vehicle after they have consumed alcoholic beverages, but they are not aware of the dangers of taking the driver's seat when they have not had enough sleep. Unfortunately, both behaviors could have very similar consequences and could put you at risk of being involved in an automotive accident. Understanding the dangers of drowsy driving is one of the first steps to keeping you, as well as the others on the road, safe from this potentially deadly behavior.
What Is Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy, tired, fatigued, or sleep-deprived driving is defined as the act of operating a motor vehicle anytime you are cognitively impaired by the lack of sleep or suffering from sleep deprivation. Although it is very difficult to put an exact number on the number of drivers this affects, studies have shown that approximately 1 in 23 drivers over the age of 18 have reported that they have fallen asleep while driving during the previous month.
It is estimated that drowsy driving has caused approximately 100,000 accidents, which in turn resulted in more than 40,000 injuries and over 1,500 deaths annually. It is thought that the number of fatal crashes could be much higher since this cause is often hard to identify. Research has shown that there is little difference in the driving abilities of people who have been awake for more than 17 hours and a driver with a blood alcohol level of .05%.
Drowsy driving and sleep deprivation affect drivers in multiple ways. These include:
- Impairing the driver's coordination
- Impairing their judgement
- Impairing the driver's ability to remember and retain pertinent information
- Requiring longer reaction times
Who Is At Risk Of Drowsy Driving?
Anyone who does not get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel is at risk of drowsy driving, but it often affects certain groups more than others. These include:
- Shift workers (especially those who work overnight or who work extended shifts)
- Commercial drivers who work extended hours
- People who suffer from various sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or narcolepsy
- Drivers that take certain types of medications that can cause them to be drowsy
How Do You Avoid Drowsy Driving?
One of the best ways to avoid drowsy driving is to ensure that you get enough sleep prior to getting on the road. The average adult requires 7.5 - 9 hours of quality sleep in order to be fully rested. If you find yourself waking up just as tired as you were when you went to bed or feeling sluggish throughout the day, there is a good chance that you are not getting quality restful sleep. Even cutting your sleep schedule by one hour can affect your reaction times as well as your thinking ability.
Pull over when you feel yourself showing signs of being drowsy. These include:
- Frequent blinking or watery eyes
- Daydreaming or not remembering portions of your trip
- Drifting from lane to lane
- Encountering the rumble strip on the roadside or in the center of the road
When you find yourself experiencing these things, pull over, take a break, and if you are able to, change drivers. Try to plan long trips during times that you are the most awake, and make a point to rest prior to getting on the road. This will help to ensure your safety. By ensuring that you remain awake and alert, you will be able to avoid other drivers who may not take the same precautions that you have.
Unfortunately, drowsy driving happens. If you have been involved in an accident with a drowsy driver, seek out the services of an experienced and knowledgeable auto accident attorney from a law firm like Clearfield & Kofsky. They will be able to help you to secure the compensation that you may be entitled to as a result of your accident.Share