For many of us, sleep is a rare commodity. Whether due to the demands of work or family, or simply as the result of insomnia and sleep apnea, many people go without the recommended amount of sleep at night. The end result is we are tired, and lack of sleep can make us drowsy and not as alert as we need to be. Unfortunately, that can present dangerous situations when driving. Car accidents and injuries caused by drowsy driving have risen alarmingly in the United States, and while certain people have always been at risk, greater numbers of sleep-deprived drivers are suffering from the ramifications of being drowsy behind the wheel.
Facts About Drowsy Driving
According to the most recent statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving while drowsy or tired resulted in 72,000 car accidents in 2013. These accidents resulted in approximately 800 fatalities, and over 40,000 injuries. According to Gallup polls, roughly one in 10 adults in this country has frequent problems sleeping, and both the quantity and quality of sleep you get can have an impact on your driving. The NHTSA lists the following reasons why many people suffer a lack of sleep:
- Taking care of children, such as midnight bottle feeding or being up with a sick child;
- Staying up late socializing in clubs or with friends;
- Pulling an ‘all nighter’ to catch up on the demands of work or school;
- Being up late preparing for holidays, vacations and special occasions; or
- Short-term job demands, such as working different shifts or working overtime.
Working regular overtime, night shifts, or swing shifts can result in chronic sleep disturbances and fatigue. People who work in hospitals and 24-hour retail establishments frequently suffer a lack of sleep, and truck drivers, bus drivers, and pilots all have demanding jobs that can make sleep hard to come by.
Preventing Drowsy Driving
In order to prevent drowsy driving accidents, drivers are urged to be aware of the dangers as well as the potential warning signs. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, warning signs of drowsy driving include the following:
- ‘Zoning out’, driving on autopilot, and realizing you have no memory of the last few miles you have driven;
- Drifting into opposing lanes or brushing against curbs;
- Missing turns and exits;
- Yawning and blinking excessively; and/or
- Having blurred or teary vision, and having problems keeping your eyes open and on the road.
If you experience the above warning signs, do not try to keep yourself awake by drinking coffee or energy drinks, which will only give you a momentary burst and make you more sleepy in the long run. Distractions such as turning on the radio do not help, and could cause an accident by diverting your attention away from the road. The best course of action is to simply pull over, stop driving, and give yourself a rest. If you have passengers in the car, let another licensed driver take over the driving duties while you get some needed sleep.
Our Attorneys Can Help You
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact our experienced Florida car accident attorneys today. At Hogan Frick, we provide the kind of aggressive legal representation that can assist you in getting compensation for injuries caused in these accidents, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.