According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness or driver fatigue is the main factor in more than 100,000 car accidents annually. Driving drowsy can be almost the same as driving drunk – your reaction time is impaired, as is your judgment and memory.
The NHTSA says that a majority of crashes due to drowsy driving occur either late at night, early in the morning, or mid-afternoon. These crashes usually involve a single vehicle and typically occur on a highway or other high-speed road.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says that 70 million Americans are sleep deprived or suffer from sleep disorders. This is a major contributing factor to car crashes. In fact, the NSF says that:
- 1 out of 10 drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year
- 1 out of 8 crashes that require hospitalization is due to drowsy driving
- 1 out of 6 fatal traffic accidents is a direct result of drowsy driving
The NSF says there are certain groups of people who are at-risk for drowsy driving, including:
- Young people, specially males under age 26
- Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
- Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
- People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
- Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged
Here are some tips to keep you from becoming a drowsy driving statistic:
- Get plenty of sleep before you drive; most adults need 7-9 hours;
- Never drive if you have been up for 24 hours or more;
- When on long trips, be sure to schedule a stop every two hours or every 100 miles;
- Do not rely on an open window or music to keep you awake;
- When you start to feel drowsy, pull over in a safe area away from traffic and take a short nap (15-45 minutes);
- Avoid eating a heavy meal before long periods of driving;
- Drink coffee or energy drinks to stay alert.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of an accident, our Texas personal injury attorneys have the experience and resources to help you through this difficult time and obtain just compensation for your injuries. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.