Drowsy driving is riskier than you think. Did you know that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving when it comes to damage, injury, and death? According to the U. S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving causes at least 100,000 cars, bus and truck crashes per year. However, experts at the NHTSA explain that the numbers are many higher-ups to 6,000 fatal crashes each year. These types of accidents can result in lawsuits for the injuries and deaths they cause.
Are You At Risk of Drowsy Driving?
If you spend time driving, especially on New Jersey’s highways or rural roads, you are at risk of being injured by a drowsy driver. People working a late shift and truck drivers are most likely to drive drowsy because they are fatigued and overworked. There are several ways to shift workers to lessen the risk of drowsy driving. Carpooling and ridesharing will decrease their time behind the wheel each week. Shift workers are also discouraged from taking long or overtime shifts if they plan on driving themselves to and from work.
Those who drive on the road between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late-afternoon between 1-3 p.m. are also more likely to get sleepy since these are the times when we experience dips in our circadian rhythm (the internal clock in our body that monitors sleep). Additionally, people driving alone are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel since they have no one to talk to them and keep them awake. Finally, drivers with untreated sleep disorders are at higher risk of having issues while driving.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
We may all experience sleepiness while driving at one point or another. In one survey, 55 percent of people polled admitted to driving while drowsy in the past year. It is crucial that we all be cognizant of the signs of drowsy driving so we can take action to prevent any accidents from occurring.
The United States Centers for Disease Control notes the following warning signs of drowsy driving:
- Drifting into other lanes or onto rumble strips on the shoulder
- Unable to keep eyes open
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Yawning a lot
- Difficulty recalling the last few miles driven
- Missing road signs, turns, or exits
- Driving too close to cars in front of you
- Remember: it is dangerous and against the law to pull your car onto the shoulder of the freeway or highway to sleep.
By taking the following precautions, we can all avoid drowsy driving on the road:
- Avoid driving alone.
- Get a restful night’s sleep most people need 7 or 8 hours each night.
- Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving.
- Try not to drive late at night.
- Avoid ineffective tricks like smoking, listening to loud music, drinking caffeinated beverages, or opening a window. These are not real cures for drowsiness.
- Deal with any sleep disorders by seeing a physician about treatment options.
Additionally, it’s important for people who regularly take medication to read the warning labels, even if they have been prescribed for a non-sleep-related condition. Do not drive while taking medications that can make you sleepy, such as narcotic pain pills, tranquilizers, cold or cough medicine, muscle relaxants, some high blood-pressure pills, and some antihistamines.
The responsibility for safe and alert driving will always fall on the driver. By understanding the guidelines laid out in this article, you will make New Jersey highways and roads safer for you, your passengers and other drivers.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a serious motor vehicle accident, please contact Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman, and we will contact you within twenty-four (24) hours to discuss your car accident case.