Drowsy driving seems like an innocent mistake, and sometimes, it is. Maybe you don’t realize how late it got to be before you headed home, or how that one beer clouded your mind before you got behind the wheel. Or, maybe it’s early in the day, but you just didn’t get enough sleep last night. It’s easy to fall into these situations, and it’s easy to not understand how dangerously tired you may be.
But even if it’s an accident to drive sleepy, it’s no less dangerous. Drowsy driving is deadly: it is responsible for more than 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries each year. However, researchers believe these statistics are underreported, as it can be difficult to determine whether drivers were drowsy when they crashed. Unlike blood alcohol level, fatigue isn’t something that can be tested. But when a driver runs off the road late at night at a high speed with no attempt to break, it’s pretty clear they’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel. It’s not long after that they need medical attention, and an Austin “Driving While Impaired” Accident Attorney.
Drowsy driving accidents happen most often between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon. These time periods are when people experience a dip in the circadian rhythm and may feel more sleepy than other times of the day. Although it’s possible you’ll injure or kill others, the person you’re most likely to hurt is yourself. Drowsy driving crashes often involve a single driver with no passengers who has run off the road at a high rate of speed with no braking.
Driving while drowsy is just about as dangerous as driving while drunk. When you’re too tired to drive safely, your ability to react, be aware of hazards, and maintain your attention to the road suffers.
If you’ve been awake for more than 20 hours, you’re driving at an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, which is the U.S. legal limit. Overall, you’re three times more likely to experience a car crash when you’re tired and need an Austin Car Accident Attorney.
And, you could be falling asleep behind the wheel and not even know it. Some people can experience what’s known as microsleeps. These are short, involuntary bursts of inattention. They last for just a few seconds. But in those few seconds, your vehicle can drive the length of a football field at highway speeds — while you’re asleep.
Drowsy driving is a sneaky hazard. While you’re likely to be aware of the four shots you had at the bar before driving drunk, drowsy driving doesn’t involve the same action. It just requires a lack of sleep, which isn’t as easy to be aware of.
These are some signs you’re too sleepy to drive:
If you’re experiencing one or more of these signs of drowsy driving, it’s imperative that you get off the road immediately. You could fall asleep at any time, but even if you stay awake, your driving is impaired with impeded reaction time, judgement, and vision.
Pull over for the night at a hotel, or just take a quick nap in your car in a safe place. A gas station can be helpful, allowing you to get out, stretch your legs, and grab a caffeinated beverage, then take a nap before getting back on the road if you’re not able to stop for the night. You could take a caffeine nap, wherein you drink a caffeinated beverage, then nap in the 20 to 30 minutes it takes for the caffeine to kick in. You should wake up feeling refreshed and ready to get to where you’re going with renewed focus and energy.
Drowsy driving isn’t something that just happens to other people. We’re all at risk, so we all need to be aware of the signs and take steps to proactively prevent drowsy driving accidents.
Think it can’t happen to you? Research from the American Sleep Foundation found that about half of U.S. adult drivers have gotten behind the wheel while feeling drowsy. And not just once; driving while drowsy is a consistent activity for these drivers. About 20% say they’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past year. That’s 1 in 5 drivers falling asleep while driving.
Prevention is key, as it can be difficult to undo sleepiness behind the wheel. Once you’re tired, the only real solution is sleep. It’s a good idea to plan for adequate sleep in a healthy sleep environment. Plan to travel at times when you’re normally awake, and if you’re driving long distances, schedule a break for every two hours or approximately every 100 miles. Don’t plan to work all day and then drive all night. And if possible, travel with a passenger who can help you stay alert, or take over driving responsibilities if you become too sleepy to drive safely.
Driving when you’re too tired to safely do so puts you and others at risk, and it should be considered as dangerous as drunk driving. It’s not always painfully obvious to tell when you’re too sleepy to drive, so it’s important to watch out for the signs of drowsy driving in yourself and other drivers before an accident occurs.
If you or a loved one are involved in, or have been affected by drowsy driving, give us a call now. We will treat your case like if it was a family member of ours. The instant that you hire us as your Car Accident Attorney, is the instant that we will get to work with our skilled team of legal experts to achieve your desired outcome. Call Now!
This post was written by Amy Highland, a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org.
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