Driving while you’re tired is dangerous for you and everyone else on the road. People know intoxicated driving is illegal and socially unacceptable, but drowsy driving remains a gray area. Most drivers underestimate the dangers of drowsy driving and overstate their ability to drive when they’re sleepy.
Drowsy driving is responsible for over 100,000 car accidents each year, 40,000 of which result in severe injuries, according to UCLA’s Sleep Disorder Center. The actual figure is probably higher since drowsiness is self-reported. One out of every six fatal car accidents is caused by tired driving.
Drowsy driving is as bad intoxicated driving because your functionality is impaired in both scenarios. Sometimes, it’s best to stay home and not risk getting into an accident.
The following signs indicate you might be too tired to drive.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Though we can put off eating when we’re hungry and drinking water when we’re thirsty, we can’t put off sleeping. Your body’s urge to rest is so strong; eventually, it’ll force itself to sleep if you haven’t been sleeping much. Your brain can shut off at any moment, such as when you’re behind the wheel. Even if you haven’t fallen asleep during drowsy driving, your reaction times were probably slower, and you could not assess dangerous situations. Lack of awareness on the road can be as dangerous as falling asleep while driving.
Signs You Need Rest
Treat feeling drowsy while driving as an emergency and pull over as soon as you can. If you’re experiencing any of the following, it’s time for you to rest:
- Frequent yawning and eye-rubbing
- Having trouble holding your head up and slouching over
- Having difficulty remembering things, such as the number of miles you’ve driven
- Missing traffic signs
- Driving past an exit
- Weaving in and out of your lane
- Drifting onto rumble strips
Drivers are more likely to fall asleep while driving if they fall into any of these categories:
- Graveyard shift workers
- Drivers who’ve been awake for more than 12 hours
- Drivers who take medications that cause drowsiness
- Drivers who are sobering up from alcohol
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders
Minimize Drowsy Driving
If you’re caught in a situation where you suddenly become sleepy, and you’re on the road, do the following:
- Pullover at a rest stop and stretch your legs by walking around the area
- Take a short nap at a rest stop
- Take turns driving with someone else
- Drink coffee or other caffeinated products like soda, and stay off the road for 30 minutes (this is how long it takes for the anti-fatigue effects to kick in)
If a break and drinking caffeine don’t help, then you should stay at a hotel overnight. Although you may not want to spend money on a hotel, knowing your limit is better than becoming a statistic.
Even if you avoid driving when you’re sleepy, you run the risk of being struck by a drowsy driver. Unfortunately, some drivers don’t take the dangers of drowsy sleeping seriously. Hold a negligent driver accountable for their actions. Contact Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.