You didn't get enough sleep last night, and all you want to do is crawl back into bed. But, you've got things to do so you stifle that yawn, rub the sleep out of your eyes, and climb behind the wheel.
Or - you've been driving for five hours now, and it's late. But, you're almost home. You've nodded off a couple of times, but it's not far and you know you can make it...
It's not like you're drunk, right?
Actually, driving when you're drowsy is a lot like driving drunk - it's dangerous, it's negligent, and it causes a ridiculous number of car wrecks every year. If you are in a SC auto accident that was caused by drowsy driving, the sleepy driver was most likely at fault and will be liable for the damage they caused.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 846 people died in drowsy-driving-related accidents in 2014. NHTSA estimates that sleepy drivers cause about 83,000 crashes every year, and about 37,000 of those accidents result in injuries.
So why are drowsy drivers involved in so many accidents? When you haven't gotten enough sleep, your reaction time is slowed down, and your ability to pay attention to traffic around you is significantly decreased. That's why you are more likely to make potentially deadly driving errors, including:
- Crossing the centerline;
- Drifting between lanes;
- Following too closely behind other vehicles;
- Failing to brake in time; and
How Common Is Drowsy Driving?
Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that getting less than seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period doubles your chances of crashing. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 35 percent of American adults don't get enough sleep. That means about a third of the vehicles on the road are being operated by people who are too tired to drive safely.
How Do You Know If You're Too Sleepy to Drive?
The warning signs that you are too sleepy to drive safely include:
- Yawning or blinking a lot;
- Drifting out of your lane;
- You missed your exit;
- You hit the rumble strip on the side of the highway; or
- You don't remember the last few minutes of your drive.
Tips to Help You Avoid Drowsy Driving
- Get at least seven hours of sleep every night (eight if you're a teenager);
- Be consistent - go to bed and get up at about the same time every day;
- Be aware of the side effects of any medications you are taking, especially anxiolytic hypnotics, some antidepressants, and some antihistamines;
- Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m., when it's most difficult to combat sleepiness; and
- Take breaks if you are feeling sleepy - stretch, take a short walk, drink some water.
Drowsy driving is negligent driving - it's a choice, much like drunk driving. If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a sleepy driver, your SC auto accident attorney at Axelrod and Associates will help you to hold them accountable and get maximum compensation for you in a personal injury lawsuit.