Drowsy Driving Car Accidents
If you have ever gotten behind the wheel of a car after having too little sleep, consider the following statistic. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60 percent of Americans say that they have driven while drowsy, and 37 percent admit that they have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. When you combine those figures with the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 100,000 car accidents are caused by drowsy driving each year, it is safe to say that this is cause for concern.
Unfortunately, drowsy driving is not generally taken as seriously as other issues like drunk driving or distracted driving. Unlike drunk driving or distracted driving, oftentimes people do not even realize that they are drowsy, or that their lack of sleep is impairing their ability to drive safely. Even if they feel tired, they do not consider it a reason to avoid driving. They may decide that they can simply power through, grab a cup of coffee, and they will be fine. Yet, statistics show that this is not always the case.
Drowsy Driving Facts
While not as widely known as being a significant cause of car accidents, the NHTSA reports that approximately 1,550 fatalities, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses are caused by drowsy driving each year.
Consider the following facts before getting behind the wheel:
- Unlike drunk driving, there is no test comparable to a breathalyzer that confirms whether a driver is drowsy.
- Police receive little to no training on how to identify drowsiness as the cause of an accident.
- Self-reporting is not reliable.
- Drowsiness may be partially responsible for accidents that were thought to be solely caused by drunk driving.
- Other countries that have more consistent crash reporting procedures claim that drowsy driving is responsible for 10 to 30 percent of all car accidents.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
If you experience any of the following signs of drowsiness, it is recommended that you pull over and rest:
- Frequent blinking, burning eyes, or heavy eyelids
- Difficulty staying focused
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Repeated yawning
- Drifting in and out of lanes
- Trouble staying awake
- Feeling restless and irritable
Populations at Greatest Risk for Drowsy Driving
Research shows that the following groups are more likely to drive while drowsy than others:
- Adults between the ages of 19 to 29 are more likely to drive while drowsy than other ages groups.
- Teens often do not get the recommended amount of sleep, increasing the risk of drowsy driving accidents.
- Men are more likely to drive while drowsy than women, and are twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
- Parents are more likely to drive on too little sleep than adults without children.
- Shift workers drive while drowsy more often than those who work during regular daytime hours.
- According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who get less than five hours of sleep are four to five times more likely to be in a car accident. People who get between six and seven hours of sleep per night are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident, compared to those who get eight or more hours of sleep.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving
Getting enough sleep on a daily basis is part of a healthy lifestyle. The following are some additional steps you can take to stay awake and alert when you are behind the wheel:
- Avoid taking certain medications that are known to cause drowsiness. If you must take the medication, consider using public transportation, or avoid driving at times of peak sleepiness.
- Do not drink alcohol before driving, as it will increase drowsiness and impairment.
- If you start to feel drowsy, pull over, get some fresh air, or try to take a 20-minute nap. Be sure to use rest stops that are well-lit and safe.
- Coffee may help in the short-term, but you may still feel the effects of drowsiness after a relatively short period of time. Rest is the only cure for drowsiness.
Cherry Hill Car Accident Lawyers at Williams Cedar Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driver, do not hesitate to contact the Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Williams Cedar. Drowsy driving is a serious offense that can cause devastating injuries and significant property damage. We will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and hold them liable for your injuries. To schedule a consultation, call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777, or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey and we serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.