Drowsy driving remains one of the most common causes of car accidents. It seems that most people you talk to – and maybe even yourself – have a story about how they were “almost falling asleep” while driving. While it can be easy to laugh off such stories because they seem so universal, it is important to acknowledge that fatigued driving is extremely dangerous and puts yourself and others on the road in unreasonable amounts of danger. Even if it means renting a motel for a night, you should do all you can to avoid exhausted driving.
What are the Effects of Drowsy Driving?
We have warned you about fatigued and exhausted driving. But what about drowsy driving? Isn’t that naturally less dangerous than exhausted driving? No. Drowsy driving is exhausted driving, so it is just as dangerous.
When someone is drowsy while driving, they will experience:
- Longer reaction times
- Lapses in memory
- Blurred vision
- 300% statistical risk to get into a car accident
Dangers of Drowsy Driving Compare to Drunk Driving
Based on various studies from groups like the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), exhaustion can affect people the same way that intoxication does. In fact, the NSC estimates that staying awake for 20 hours creates the same disorientation and worsened reaction times as having a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 0.08. It might come as no surprise, then, that the NHTSA reports more than 1,500 fatalities and 71,000 injuries caused by drowsy driving accidents each year. Using a wider data pool that relies on more than just police reports, a report from the AAA increases that amount to more than 328,000 drowsy driving accidents per year, causing nearly 6,500 deaths annually.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
If you are like so many others, then tiredness has a way of sneaking up on you. One moment you feel a little tired but aren’t too worried and the next your eyes are hard to keep open. To help do your part in stopping drowsy driving accidents, you need to be more aware of the first warning signs that you are getting drowsy behind the wheel.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of drowsy driving include:
- Feeling of “heavy” eyelids or head
- Frequent yawning
- Inability to remember what you saw or did over the last few miles
- Missing turns, road signs, or traffic signals
- Difficulty maintaining a steady speed
- Drifting in and out of your lane
If you have any reason to believe you’re too drowsy to drive, the best thing you can do is pull to safety and take a nap. Be careful when pulling your vehicle over, though, as not all shoulders are safe to make complete stops. The best option is to find a motel or a brightly lit and public parking lot if you are going to sleep. Also, a short nap might not do much to eliminate your fatigue. You should plan on sleeping a usual amount for a night of rest.
Do you need help after being in an accident with a drowsy driver? Contact Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC in Columbus to speak with our car accident team about what happened. We can discuss your legal options, our in-house casework, and more during a FREE initial consultation.