Drowsy Driving Accidents
We are all extremely familiar with how dangerous drunk driving can be, but not many people consider the effects of driving drowsy. Drowsy driving is more common than most people realize. Usually this occurs when a driver has a lack of sleep, but it can also be due to sleep disorders, medications, alcohol, irregular work schedules, or other factors. It can be hard to judge when you are getting too sleepy to drive, or even when you are about to fall asleep at the wheel. Whether you actually fall asleep or not, driving at any level of drowsiness is dangerous.
Risks of Driving Drowsy
There are many dangers that come along with driving while drowsy, but the most common ones are actually the same risks that accompany driving drunk. Being sleepy can slow your reaction time, especially if you need to brake quickly or steer around an obstruction suddenly. Drowsy driving can also impede your decision-making skills, and your choices may not be as well-thought-out as they would be if you were well-rested.
Causes of Drowsy Driving
The most obvious cause of driving drowsy is simply not getting enough sleep. There are, however, other causes that may not be as obvious. These include driving for extended periods of time, where eye strain can lead to mental and physical exhaustion. Working irregular shifts, such as swing shift or graveyard, can cause inadequate amounts of sleep, as well as subpar quality of sleep for that individual. In addition, some people may have sleep disorders that they are unaware of, therefore they go untreated, and can cause them to fall asleep at the wheel or drive while sleepy. Last but not least, some medications can actually cause drowsiness, and should not be taken before driving.
Signs of Driving Drowsy
Like previously discussed, it can be difficult to tell when you are too tired to drive sometimes. Some things to look out for are excessive yawning, or frequent blinking to refocus your attention or clear your vision. If your memory becomes fuzzier while driving, and you do not remember driving the past few miles, where you are at, or where you are headed, it may be time for a break. In addition, you may miss an exit, catch yourself drifting into another lane, or off the road itself.
Drowsy Driving Stats
Drowsy driving is far more prevalent that you may think. Studies have shown that approximately 1 out of every 25 drivers over the age of 18 have fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past month. The NHTSA has approximated that 72,000 auto accidents are caused by drowsy driving. In addition, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths are a result of driving on a lack of sleep. People who snore at night (a possible sign of sleep apnea) or who regularly sleep less than 6 hours nightly have been shown to be more likely to fall asleep while operating a motor vehicle.
Drowsy driving puts a tremendous amount of people at risk. If you have been the victim of an accident where the other driver acted negligently and drove with inadequate sleep, contact us today.
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