Many people get behind the wheel when they are drowsy, and some may even think it is unavoidable. However, according to the National Safety Council, an estimated 5,000 people died in 2015 because of crashes caused by drowsy driving.
Many people do not realize how dangerous it can be to drive while tired, but being tired can cause many of the same effect to your driving as alcohol consumption can. It can cause slower reaction times, delayed awareness of hazards, difficulty focusing on driving. If you drive while tired, you are three times more likely to be involved in a car crash.
Who is most susceptible to drowsy driving?
Some of the people most susceptible to drowsy driving include commercial drivers and shift workers. However, people who have untreated sleep disorders, who take certain medications or who simply do not get enough sleep can be equally dangerous on the road.
Typically, drowsy driving crashes occur at night or in the late afternoon when people experience dips in their circadian rhythm. This type of accident also typically involves a driver running off a rural roadway at a fast speed without braking. However, drowsy drivers can still be the cause of many other types of crashes as well.
How do I prevent myself from being drowsy?
The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get seven or eight hours of sleep every night. You can also avoid driving during times when people’s circadian rhythm usually dips, check your medications to see if they can cause drowsiness and avoid drinking alcohol before driving.
If you notice yourself yawning often, blinking often, drifting from your lane or missing your exit, you may want to pull over and take short-term actions. Although consuming something with caffeine in it may help you be more alert, it may not work for very long. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends pulling over to a safe place, drinking one or two cups of coffee and taking a 20-minute nap. While this is still a short-term solution, it may work better than only consuming caffeine.
Every driver has a responsibility to behave safely on the road. If you have been injured because someone fell asleep at the wheel, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other costs associated with your injury.