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How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

Even the safest drivers may be guilty of driving while tired from time to time. Most people don’t think of drowsy driving as a common problem, but the truth is that fatigued driving is one of the biggest hazards on the road. For instance, did you know that drowsy driving is believed to cause more than 100,000 police-reported crashes each year, resulting in 71,000 injuries and 1,550 preventable deaths? According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours is an impairment that is equal to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .05%, and after 24 hours, impairment is equal to driving with a BAC of .10% – higher than what is considered legally drunk. Alarmingly, a AAA survey reveals that nearly 40 percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once, but only one in five drivers will pull over to nap if they feel sleepy.

Drowsy driving is a huge public danger for the following reasons:

  • Many drivers don’t even realize when they are nodding off at the wheel. Drowsiness can easily sneak up on a driver, especially if they are driving early in the morning or late at night after a long day at work.
  • Drowsy driving impairs a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely because it weakens decision-making ability and slows reaction time, making the driver less likely to notice hazards on the road.
  • Drowsy driving can affect just about anyone, but those who are most at risk include overtired commuters, shift workers, truck drivers, sleep deprived parents, road trip travelers, elderly drivers, and those who suffer from chronic sleep conditions. This is a significant portion of the driving population, which means that there will always be some risk of being involved in a car accident with a sleepy driver.

Here is what you can do to help prevent drowsy driving:

  • Get a good night’s sleep. Before a long car trip, make sure you have gotten at least seven to eight hours of sleep, or at least six hours of sleep before hitting the road for shorter distances.
  • Avoid things that could make you sleepy. Try not to eat a heavy meal before driving that could make you tired. Similarly, don’t use cruise control or recline your seat at times when you may become drowsy.
  • Familiarize yourself with the signs of fatigue. Drowsiness can sneak up on you gradually or hit you all at once. It is important to be aware of the signs that you may be getting tired, including stiffness, wandering thoughts, yawning, difficulty focusing, slowed reaction times, or not remembering driving the past few miles.
  • Take breaks if you need to. If you feel your attention start to slip while driving, pull over and take a break. For longer trips, it is a good idea to take a break every few hours to stretch your legs, take a bathroom break, get some fresh air, or have a snack. This will keep your energy up and decrease the chance of drowsy driving.
  • Avoid driving alone. If you plan on taking a long road trip, it is a good idea to drive with a passenger. Driving with another person can keep you alert with conversation, but more importantly, your passenger can take over driving duties if you become tired.

When drowsy drivers cause car accidents, they can be held legally responsible for compensating those they have injured. If you have been hurt in an accident caused by a negligent driver, we encourage you to take the first step toward justice by contacting Kelley/Uustal for a free personal injury consultation. Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers are prepared to meet with you to discuss your potential case and the legal options that are available to you.

Get started by calling (954) 715-4511, or fill out an online consultation form.

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