The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Contrary to popular belief, driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving intoxicated. According to the National Safety Council, “Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% – the U.S. legal limit” (nsc.org). Similar to the way alcohol affects the body, fatigue slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment, and increases the risk of an accident.
In most cases, the tragic results of driving fatigued are sadly distressing. As a responsible motor vehicle operator, one must understand and acknowledge the concept of driving drowsy as well as associated symptoms of fatigue. Recognizing potentially dangerous signs of tiredness in oneself is the most effective method to prevent a tragic accident from occurring.
So what is drowsy driving?
Definitions of drowsy driving or driver exhaustion relate to one’s understanding of fatigue. Fatigue is a term generally used to describe a distinct sensation or state of mind, closely linked to feeling “sleepy,” “tired,” “drowsy,” or “exhausted.” These terms all indicate similar but distinctly different meanings in research and clinical settings. That said, the safety and transportation field generally use these terms interchangeably.
The most prevalent cause of tiredness or fatigue while driving is sleep deprivation; untreated sleep disorders; the use of sedating medications; or the consumption of alcohol when already tired. These factors have an intensifying effect, which significantly increases the chance of a fatigue-related accident.
The most common warning signs of drowsy driving include: frequent yawning and blinking, difficulty recalling the past few miles driven, missing an exit, drifting in and out of lanes, or hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, decide to carefully stop, and protect yourself as well as others on the road. Simply turning up the radio or opening the windows are non-effective solutions which people mistakenly believe enhance their level of overall alertness.
Unfortunately, accidents involving tired or drowsy drivers occur all too often. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 100,000 police-reported accidents a year involve drowsy or fatigued drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has also estimated that there are more than 328,000 unreported crashes a year due to drowsy driving (nsc.org). A large part of these accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries.
Methods to avoid drowsy driving include getting enough sleep, establishing a firm sleeping schedule, and withdrawing from alcohol consumption or medications that make you overly tired. Crash avoidance technologies, such as drowsiness alert and lane departure warnings, constitute safe and useful methods to avert danger in the event of a potential accident. Keep in mind these technologies are not an excuse to neglect basic safety principles. Driving drowsy in the first place is never a suitable solution.
To ensure your safety as well as the safety of other drivers around you, make the right decision to withstand from drowsy driving, even if it may be inconvenient or untimely.
If you have been injured or otherwise involved in an auto accident resulting from drowsy driving, make sure you have representation that understands this issue inside and out. Reynolds & Reynolds personal injury lawyers in Frisco, Texas specialize in car, truck and other vehicles accidents in which impaired driving is at play. We are passionate about protecting victims and getting insurance companies to pay their share. Contact us for a free initial attorney consultation at 972-684-5011.