Chances are that at some point you’ve driven on too little sleep or too late into the night, putting yourself at risk for driving while drowsy. Although you may have realized this wasn’t the best situation, you probably had no idea just how dangerous it was.
According to a recent AAA study, drowsy driving is almost 10 times more prevalent than previously reported by the government. In 2015 alone, the study authors estimate, drowsy driving caused or contributed to more than 5,000 car crash deaths.
Read on to learn more, including how to reduce your risk for a crash and what you can do if a drowsy driver injures you or a loved one.
AAA: Drowsy Driving Causes Almost 10 Percent of Crashes
The recent study by AAA, published in February 2018, is the most in-depth study on drowsy driving ever conducted. It consisted of 3,593 ordinary drivers from six different geographic areas who agreed to have cameras installed in their vehicles from October 2010 to December 2013. AAA researchers built the study this way so they could accurately assess whether drivers were fatigued at the time of any traffic crashes.
Out of the 3,593 drivers in the study, 905 got into car wrecks during the three-year study period. For study purposes, researchers only used the 701 of those crashes where they could see the driver’s eyes in the minutes leading up to the collision. Researchers tagged drivers whose eyes were 80% closed at least 12% of the time in those minutes as drowsy drivers.
The AAA study found that 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% of crashes with property damage during the study period involved drowsiness. These figures are 10 times higher than the rates reported by previous government studies on drowsy driving.
Who Is at Risk for Drowsy Driving?
Truckers and other commercial drivers are especially at risk for drowsy driving due to the long hours they spend on the road. Also, shift workers are at an increased risk for drowsiness because of the unusual sleep patterns, long shifts, and night driving that often accompany this type of work. Finally, those with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea as well as drivers on medications that make them sleepy are at high risk for drowsiness behind the wheel.
Just like distracted driving, though, anyone who makes the wrong decisions is in danger. Any driver who doesn’t get enough sleep and exercises poor judgment can end up driving while dangerously fatigued, and the impairment that drowsiness causes behind the wheel can be severe. In fact, studies show that driving on five or fewer hours of sleep is equivalent to driving drunk.
Know the Warning Signs of Drowsiness
Everyone experiences the occasional yawn in traffic, but when real fatigue sets in, it’s time to stop driving. Signs to watch for, either in yourself or in your driver when you’re a passenger, include excessive yawning and blinking. If you find yourself struggling to remember the past few miles, keep your head up, or stay in your lane, you’re in a very dangerous situation, and it’s time to take a break or switch drivers.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get 7–8 hours of solid sleep every night. Drugs like caffeine and tricks like cranking up the air conditioning simply can’t substitute for getting enough rest. Avoid drinking any alcohol or taking medications that make you drowsy before getting on the road, and if you take a long trip, make sure to get as much sleep as you can the night before.
Unfortunately, getting plenty of rest can’t protect you from other drowsy drivers on the road. Especially with drowsy driving being much more common than previously thought, it’s important to stay alert when driving at night, as you’re at an increased risk of encountering drowsy or impaired drivers. Keep yourself awake and well-rested to increase your chances of having the awareness and reflexes to avoid any dangerous drivers on the road.
However, sometimes even the most careful and sensible drivers get injured by others through no fault of their own. If you or someone you love has been in a car accident involving drowsy driving, you should contact an attorney who has handled these types of cases in the past. An experienced attorney will be able to assess the facts of your case and give you an honest opinion about your best path forward, and they should be able to do it during a free consultation that won’t cost you anything.
Atkins & Markoff: Demanding Justice for Injured Victims in Oklahoma
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligent behavior, including drowsy driving, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Atkins & Markoff are here to help. We’ve helped our clients recover millions through settlements and verdicts, and we would love the opportunity to help you.
Drowsy driving: Asleep at the wheel. (2017, November 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/index.html
Jansen, B. (2018, February 8). AAA: Drowsy driving plays larger role in accidents than federal statistics suggest. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/02/07/aaa-drowsy-driving-plays-larger-role-accidents-than-federal-statistics-suggest/313226002/
Holmes, J. (2016 December 6). New study shows the risks of driving when sleep deprived. Motor1.com. Retrieved from https://www.motor1.com/news/130474/aaa-drowsy-driving-study/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.