The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
01 May 2016IN: Personal Injury
Greater risks are on the road because of drowsy driving
In a matter of seconds, lives can be forever altered. Victims of accidents involving drowsy driving know this all too well. While many studies have researched the effects of drunk driving and distracted driving, another serious danger is drowsy driving.
Dangerousness of the situation
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported in its 2014 report that 21 percent of fatal automotive accidents involve a drowsy driver. In comparison, 31 percent of traffic-related deaths are caused by alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drowsy driving involves a variety of impairments, including:
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Limited awareness of surroundings
- Concentration deficits
Most dangerously, drowsy driving can result in the driver being lulled into sleep, which can easily lead to catastrophe. When a person makes the decision to drive while drowsy, he or she also takes the risk that he or she may cause others to sustain injuries or be killed in a fatal motor vehicle accident that could have easily been avoided.
Some individuals are more at risk for drowsy driving than others. This includes:
- Individuals with medical issues – Those who suffer from sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or other sleep disorders may have an increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Truck drivers – Federal regulations have been instituted due to the ongoing issue of truck drivers getting tired behind the wheel after driving for too many hours in one sitting.
- Night shift workers – Individuals who work night shifts may not get adequate rest during the day.
- New parents – Individuals who have a sleep debt, including new parents may also be more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving accident.
Everyone can take steps to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a drowsy driving accident. Individuals who have not had adequate sleep should turn the keys over to a safer driver. When considering embarking on a trip, it is important to think not only about the driver’s current physical state but also about how he or she will feel by the end of the journey. While some drivers may feel fine when they first begin the trip, they may be utterly exhausted by the end of the trip, raising the likelihood of being involved in a serious accident. If they do wind up in this situation, they should immediately pull over in a safe place and stay off the road until they are safe to return.
Drivers should also make up their sleep debt, which exists whenever they get less than seven hours of sleep a night. They should also aim for a deep sleep in which they enjoy REM. Sleep experts recommend going to sleep at the same time each day and waking up at the same time to help ensure regular sleep patterns.