With so many car crashes related to drunk driving, driving while under the influence, and texting while driving, a growing number of people forget another factor: 20 percent of all drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. A drowsy driver might not realize how tired they are until it is too late.
Approximately 5,000-6,000 crashes are believed to be caused by drowsy drivers each year, according to the National Hightway Traffic Safety Administration.
November 1-8 is Drowsy Driver Prevention Week. Please share these tips with friends and family. Use #Awake2Drive on social media and tag us on Twitter @brentadamslaw to let us know how you help prevent sleep deprivation on the roads. Our Raleigh injury lawyers share several tips below that can help minimize the risks of a sleep-related driving accident:
- Plan regular stops. Even if the driver doesn't feel like they need the rest, routine stops to walk around, recline, and rest one's eyes can help prevent dosing off behind the wheel.
- If driving is part of one's occupation, follow federal and company guidelines for mandatory rest periods. If short naps are not enough--the individual should simply stay off the roads until they are rested.
- Avoid alcohol. Not only to prevent drunk driving, but alcohol's biological effects many hours or even a day after consumption can cause drowsiness.
- Read medication labels. Some drugs have warnings that explicitly state symptoms of drowsiness, lack of coordination, and more. If the medications are required, seek alternative means of transportation. If the medication is not mandatory, delay taking it until after driving.
- Use the buddy system. Travel with friends or family and create a driving schedule so that everyone has time behind the wheel when they are rested.
- Don't rely on caffeine. Although caffeine can help increase attention, it should be combined with proper rest. Also, it takes about a half an hour for caffeine to enter the bloodstream.
- Travel during the day. Our bodies' natural rhythms trigger sleep at night.
- Check with a doctor. Some people have undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders.
- Pull over to a safe space as soon as the driver exhibits signs of sleepiness. This might include repeated yawning, eye rubbing, forgetting location (missing an exit), drifting between lanes, daydreaming and lack of focus. Some drivers are aware of how tired they are and negligently continue driving. They try to open windows and blast music--but the safest thing to do is to get off the road and rest.
- Our last tip is a simple one: Get enough rest. Studies routinely show 7-9 hours of sleep each night is recommended. Quality sleep is important. Try to create an undisturbed, dark, cool space.
Lack of sleep reduces the driver's judgment, coordination, reaction time, and impairs their attention. If you see another driver on the road exhibiting signs of drowsiness or intoxication (drifting lanes, hitting the rumble strip, driving far below or above the speed limit), contact local authorities and try to provide an accurate description and license plate number.
A driver who falls asleep at the wheel could hit another vehicle (or vehicles) at full speed or faster. The force of the impact could contribute to more severe accident injuries. Individuals who are victims of an accident that was caused as a result of a sleep-deprived driver could be qualified to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, future healthcare treatment and home modifications, and more. Our Raleigh injury lawyers provide a complimentary case evaluation, we do not earn money until we win an award for our client, and we also provide a video explaining how you can settle your case without a lawyer.