Drowsy drivers pose a serious hazard on our roads; however, too many people do not realize exactly how dangerous driving while fatigued can be. To raise awareness of the dangers of driving while fatigued, reduce the number of accidents, and prevent injuries and deaths, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sponsors an annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. The NSF has scheduled this year’s event for November 6-13.
How common is drowsy driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were almost 850 deaths related to drowsy driving in 2014. This total was consistent with the data collected each year between 2005 and 2009, when there were an average of 886 deaths and 37,000 injuries in 83,000 accidents.
While these numbers are staggering enough on their own, the National Sleep Foundation suggests they may be dramatically lower than the actual number of wrecks that involve fatigued drivers. It is incredibly difficult to determine the alertness level of a driver following an accident, so these crashes often require the driver to self-report their fatigue.
How to Avoid Driving Drowsy
Obviously, the first thing you can do to avoid drowsy driving is to get plenty of sleep; however, there are a few more things you can do:
Not drinking at all before driving. While you may be able to have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner and remain under the legal limit, there are other dangers to be aware of. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the body’s systems. This can be particularly problematic if you are already fatigued.
Not driving when taking certain medications. Some medications cause drowsiness, and can make driving dangerous. If you are taking a medication that includes this warning, use public transportation, ridesharing services, or other transportation alternatives.
Pay careful attention to teen drivers. Teens require more sleep than adults, yet tend to stay up late into the night. This combination of social habits and biological needs increases the risk of drowsy driving accidents for teens.
Know the peak times for drowsy driving. Most people are more likely to fall asleep during the late afternoon, and between midnight and 6 a.m. By knowing your risk increases during these times, you can remain more vigilant of your level of fatigue, and pull over if necessary.
Have a plan if you do become drowsy. It is never a good idea to drive when you are feeling fatigued, so it pays to plan on finding a hotel or other place to rest on long trips. In a pinch, the NHTSA says you can down a cup of coffee or two, and take a 20-minute nap in a safe area to improve your alertness level for a short period.
Drowsy Driving Accidents and Liability
Fatigued drivers have a slower reaction time than other drivers, making them more likely to make poor judgment calls and be unable to avoid collisions. When these factors cause an accident, those who suffer injuries can hold the drowsy driver responsible for medical costs, lost wages, property damage, and other losses.
If you suffered injuries in a drowsy driving accident in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you should discuss your case with a knowledgeable car accident attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal options for compensation.
The attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC have decades of experience helping accident victims recover the compensation they deserve. To schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation, call our office today at 215-642-2335.