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Driving under the influence of not enough sleep can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Association, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. However, the number is most likely much higher than that because drowsy driving is an underreported cause of an accident. Additionally, there is no way to actually prove a person was driving drowsy like there is with a blood alcohol level percentage test for a drunk driver.
The classic crash caused by a drowsy driver occurs at night, involves a single car with only the driver in the vehicle whom sustains serious or fatal injuries, and there is a lack of any skid marks because there was no attempt to avoid the accident. However, one does not have to fall asleep behind the wheel to be dangerous on the road while sleepy. Like drunk driving, driving drowsy slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and vision, and increases your risk of getting into an accident.
Who is at risk for drowsy driving?
- Young people under the age of 29, especially males;
- Nightshift workers and those working long shifts or multiple shifts;
- People with untreated sleep apnea and insomnia;
- Parents with young children or infants in the house;
- Commercial truck drivers driving long distances; and
- Jet-lagged travelers.
How to prevent drowsy driving:
- Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road.
- Stop at least every two hours or 100 miles and walk around.
- Have a travel companion with you to talk to and share the driving with.
If you start to feel drowsy and feel yourself fighting the urge to sleep:
Get well off the road and into a safe parking place, have a caffeinated beverage, and take a short nap if you begin to feel drowsy, start drifting into another lane of traffic or hitting the rumble strip. Simply turning up the radio or opening the windows are not effective ways to stay alert.
In addition to the dangers that drowsy drivers pose to themselves, their passengers, and others on the road, they can be held liable for their actions if they cause an accident. The experienced accident attorneys at the Law Office of Jeffrey Meldon and Associates in Ocala, Florida advise all drivers to be rested, alert, and sober. If you were the victim of a drowsy or drunk driver, feel free to call my office for a free case evaluation at 352 629-5700 or toll free at 800 373-8000 or contact me on line.