When we talk about unsafe, reckless driving, we immediately tend to bring up driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There’s good reason for this, as driving drunk or high can severely impair the driver and result in serious accidents or death.
One influence we don’t always think about is the danger of drowsy driving. Oftentimes, we take to the road fatigued and don’t realize we’re being reckless; in fact, we might not even realize we’re drowsy.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that up to 100,000 accidents each year in the United States are the result of driver fatigue, causing 40,000 or more injuries and at least 1,550 deaths. However, in 2018, AAA found that fatigue could have been a contributing factor in up to eight times as many crashes as the previous statistic suggests.
Knowing the signs of drowsiness can help you to make better driving decisions.
Recognizing the Signs of Drowsiness
If while driving you start to experience these symptoms or notice your driver is exhibiting some of them, you need to pull over!
- Frequent yawning
- Trouble keeping eyes open
- Lapses in attention and wandering thoughts; “brain fog”
- Irritability or giddiness
- Drifting between lanes
- Being unable to remember past streets or miles driven
Those Most at Risk for Fatigued Driving
While everyone can experience fatigue and drowsiness from a lack of sleep, there are some individuals who are more prone to becoming drowsy while being behind the wheel. These individuals consistently accumulate sleep debt, may suffer from conditions that cause or contribute to drowsiness, or may drive long stretches without breaks, increasing their risk of fatigue.
- Teenage drivers (particularly males under age 26)
- Shift workers
- Long-haul and commercial truck drivers
- Individuals with untreated disorders, particularly sleep apnea or narcolepsy
- Individuals on certain medications that cause drowsiness
- Business or frequent travelers experiencing jet lag
Additionally, driving late at night can result in decreased awareness of your surroundings, and increase your risk of drowsiness behind the wheel.
Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving
If you’ve got a long day of driving ahead of you, or find yourself susceptible to fatigue, here are some simple tips to help you avoid drowsy driving:
- Get adequate rest before a car trip with a minimum of six hours sleep
- When possible, drive with a companion to help you stay alert
- Plan stops along your route to provide rest
If you feel sleepy while driving, you should pull over. Do not risk driving drowsy. If you must continue driving, take a break before continuing, and try some of the following:
- Apply cold water to your face and neck
- Take a brisk walk or exercise
- Drink a caffeinated beverage
Driving Without Adequate Sleep Is Dangerous
Studies show that going 17 straight hours without sleep results in mental and physical impairment equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05; the legal limit in Kentucky is 0.08 BAC. Someone who goes 24 hours without sleep would have an equivalent BAC of 0.10, placing them above the legal limit.
Eight hours of sleep are recommended to have proper alertness and the ability to make critical decisions while behind the wheel. Six hours of sleep will reduce those faculties by 25% while getting only four hours of sleep results in up to a 50% decrease.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident in which you suspect drowsy driving, contact an attorney right away. The right attorney will help you to gather the evidence needed to support your claim, such as driving logs of commercial truckers, gas and food receipts, cell phone activity logs, and more.
An attorney experienced in car and truck accident injuries will seek the compensation you deserve.
Trust McCoy & Sparks—Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Central Kentucky
Recognized as one of Central Kentucky’s best law firms for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results.
Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to execute a strategy that best serves your personal needs, and draws upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain your legal avenues, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions.
You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to (844) 4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.