When it comes to car accidents, there are certain things that seem reasonably easy to avoid. If you’ve been drinking alcohol, you can call a ridesharing company. If you set your phone to do not disturb, drive within the speed limit, and wear your seatbelt, you know you are being proactive to decrease the likelihood of getting into a collision — or at least staying as safe as possible if you do. But, what about falling asleep at the wheel?
It can be late at night — or early in the morning after a graveyard shift — when you start feeling drowsy. Your eyelids get so heavy, and you hope you can get home soon. Next thing you know, you are startled awake by someone honking their horn. If you’ve ever had that experience, you know the relief that comes from knowing that you dodged that bullet. What can you do to keep it from happening again? What are the warning signs that you should make alternative transportation arrangements? And, what constitutes drowsy driving?
Why Do People Fall Asleep While Driving?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one in 25 drivers have reported falling asleep while driving. And, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year, falling asleep at the wheel causes about 100,000 car accidents — with 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
It’s also important to note that these types of accidents can also happen before a person falls asleep. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So, even if you think that you can drive while you’re exhausted, the reality is that this type of fatigue will cause you to have a significantly slower reaction time. When driving with the flow of traffic on a highway, as little as four or five seconds of inattentiveness can mean traveling as much as 100 yards. That’s plenty of space and time to cause a catastrophic accident.
Drivers who are most at risk are truck drivers, shift workers, and individuals who are not getting enough sleep due to personal circumstances. However, there are several factors that can contribute to a person feeling drowsy while driving. The most common ones include:
- A lack of sleep
- Certain medications
- Sleep disorders
- Alcohol consumption
In short, anything that could cause a driver to become too tired to remain alert will result in impaired driving. That’s why it’s important to know the signs when operating a motor vehicle.
What are Warning Signs of Drowsiness?
Everyone gets tired. And, more likely than not, most people have had life experiences that have caused them to lose sleep. But, there are certain warning signs that should never be ignored while you’re driving. These are indications that you should pull over as soon as it’s safely possible to either take a nap in your vehicle or call someone for a ride:
- Yawning frequently
- The need to blink constantly to stay awake
- Difficulties keeping your head up
- Feeling irritable
- Swerving from your lane
- Difficulty remembering the past several miles
- Missing traffic signs
- Missing your exit
- Difficulty maintaining your speed
If you’re driving and experience any of the above, do not try to tough it out or think that you’re fine for just a couple of miles. Doing so could cost your — or someone else’s — life.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
There are several things you can do to prevent an accident from drowsy driving. These include:
- If possible, arrange for someone to give you a ride home after a shift.
- Turn up the volume on your favorite songs and sing out loud.
- If on a road trip, share driving shifts with a passenger.
- If you’re by yourself, take a nap prior to driving
- If possible, get a full night’s sleep (seven or eight hours) the night before.
- Drink caffeinated beverages
Have you been in a car accident with a driver who fell asleep at the wheel? Call Us at Clark Law for a Consultation
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step. We can also ensure that you receive proper compensation for any present as well as future medical expenses relating to your neck injuries.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.