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July 31, 2019. Category: Car Accidents

Don’t Underestimate the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Certain driving behaviors — such as drinking and driving, texting and driving, and speeding — are well-known to be dangerous, and most conscientious drivers go to great lengths to avoid engaging in them. But most drivers do not consider being tired to be a great threat to their driving abilities. After all, being tired is just part of modern life, and we still need to get where we’re going, right? In reality, drowsy driving poses a significant risk to those who engage in it and those around them, and it is a risk that often goes unnoticed.

Below, we will explain why drowsy driving is so dangerous and how you can avoid becoming its victim. For more information about any of the topics herein, please contact a Tampa car accident attorney.

Drowsy Driving Can Cause Serious Accidents

Like drunk driving and texting while driving, drowsy driving causes car accidents by taking the driver’s attention away from the road, making them less alert and slower to react to changes in their environment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving impairs drivers in three main ways:

  1. It diminishes the driver’s ability to pay attention to the road
  2. It slows the driver’s reaction time
  3. It affects the driver’s capacity to make good decisions

Anyone who is operating a vehicle under these conditions is at a significantly greater risk of harming themselves and others by causing an accident. Drowsy driving can result in virtually any kind of car accident, but a few types of accidents are particularly common with this condition. These include:

  • Single-vehicle crashes: A drowsy driver is much more likely than an alert driver to miss turns, curbs, and intersections, which can cause their vehicle to exit the road and strike objects in the vicinity such as trees, guardrails, and lamp posts.
  • Rear-end collisions: Because drowsy driving slows the driver’s reaction time, they may not be able to brake in time to avoid crashing into the back of a vehicle stopped in front of them — if they even notice it at all.
  • Sideswipe and head-on collisions: Drowsy drivers often find it difficult to pay attention to the road ahead of them, which can cause them to veer out of their lanes and sideswipe vehicles in adjacent lanes or drift across the center line and cause a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle.

Any of these types of car accidents can result in serious injury or even death, not to mention potentially astronomical medical bills. If you are currently struggling after an accident with a drowsy driver, you should consider talking to a Tampa car accident attorney.

How Widespread Is This Problem?

Drowsy driving is more common than many realize. According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, 60% of drivers in the United States (roughly 168 million), admitted to having driven while feeling drowsy in the previous year, with more than one-third of those (roughly 103 million) admitting to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel. This behavior results in an estimated 100,000 crashes as a result of driver fatigue each year, causing 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary loss. 

The National Sleep Foundation also found in a survey that certain individuals are much more likely to engage in drowsy driving than others. Among other findings, the survey noted that:

  • Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy
  • Adults aged 18-29 are the most likely of any age group to drive while drowsy
  • Adults who have children in their household are more likely to drive while drowsy
  • Shift workers are more likely to drive drowsy than those with fixed daytime schedules
  • Individuals who get at least eight hours of sleep a night are half as likely to drive drowsy as those who get only six to seven hours

If you fall into any of these categories, you should take particular care to ensure that you remain alert behind the wheel.

Know the Warning Signs

While you may feel refreshed and alert when you get into the car, that alertness can subside once you have been on the road for a while, especially when you are driving late at night. It is often difficult for many people to know when they are too drowsy to drive since the onset of drowsiness occurs slowly and can catch its sufferers unaware. A few warning signs that you are too drowsy to drive include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Difficulty focusing on the road ahead
  • Dry eyes and frequent blinking
  • Yawning and rubbing your eyes
  • Forgetting the last few miles of road you drove
  • Missing turns and exits
  • Drifting out of your lane
  • Feelings of restlessness or irritability

If you experience any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is to pull over and rest or ask someone else to drive for a while.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

There are several measures everyone can take to minimize their chances of suffering injury in a drowsy driving accident. Before getting in your car to drive:

  • Make sure that you are properly rested. Most adults generally need eight hours of sleep to remain alert throughout the day.
  • Take breaks. On longer trips, plan to stop for a break roughly every 100 miles or two hours.
  • Drive with a companion. Another person’s presence in the car can help you stay alert through conversation, and they will be able to take over if you become too drowsy to continue driving.
  • Avoid alcohol and sleep-inducing medication. Although this goes without saying, avoid consuming alcohol or taking medications with sedative properties before driving, as both of these can result in drowsiness.

Contact a Tampa Car Accident Attorney

If you have been injured due to an accident with a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries through a personal injury action. For more information about the legal options available to you, please contact a Tampa car accident attorney at Alley, Clark & Greiwe by using our online contact form or calling us at 813-222-0977.

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