Having trouble sleeping is a common complaint. Whether you suffer a diagnosed sleep disorder, are bothered by thoughts that keep you awake, or simply are too busy to get the proper rest, it can have a major impact on your health. It can also impact your driving abilities, making car accidents more likely to happen. Drowsy driving has the same types of effects as driving while impaired. To protect yourself and others on the road, it is important to be aware of the risks of driving while drowsy.
Who is at Risk for Drowsy Driving and Why is it So Dangerous?
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports one out of every three working adults do not get the rest they need. In addition to lowering your immune system and putting you at risk for illness, lack of sleep impairs your thinking skills and makes you more accident-prone. This can be particularly dangerous while behind the wheel.
Being tired impairs your vision, judgment, coordination, and reaction times. The NSC warns that missing even one or two hours of sleep at night impacts your driving ability much the same as having had a few drinks. Less than four or five hours of sleep is the equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 and makes you four times more likely to be involved in a car accident. Those most at risk for drowsy driving-related crashes include:
- New parents, who may be up at night tending to a fussy infant;
- College students, who frequently pull ‘all-nighters’ cramming for exams;
- Truck drivers, shift workers, and anyone with multiple jobs, which can disrupt their sleep schedule;
- People with active social lives, which may involve staying up late at night and getting only a few hours sleep before heading to work in the morning;
- People with chronic sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Preventing Drowsy Driving Car Accidents
The NSC warns that drowsy driving is a contributing factor in as many as 20% of all car accidents. Unlike impaired driving, there are no obvious tests to determine or screen for drowsy driving so these cases often go unreported. The American Automobile Association (AAA) warns that myths for staying awake while driving, such as rolling down windows, drinking large amounts of coffee or blasting the car stereo, are unlikely to help. Nothing can substitute for a good night’s sleep. There are some ways you can protect yourself, though, and reduce your drowsy driving risks:
- Concentrate driving to times you are normally awake, such as morning or afternoon;
- Rather than driving home late at night, get a hotel or sleep over instead;
- On long trips, take breaks every few hours;
- Pull off the road immediately if you find your eyes getting heavy or you are yawning excessively, which could mean you are about to doze off.
Injured by a Drowsy Driver? Contact Our Fort Myers Car Accident Attorney
At the Bernardo Law Firm, we uncover the causes of crashes and collisions so that at-fault drivers can be held accountable. Contact our Fort Myers car accident attorney today and request a consultation to discuss how we can help you.