Everyone knows that driving home from a party drunk is a huge no-no. But what about driving to work exhausted? The fact is that many of us do that every single day. In fact, 36% of shift workers and 25% of non-shift workers are likely to be drowsy behind the wheel.
Drowsy Driving Awareness
With our busy lives, most of us do not get enough sleep on a daily basis, and we get even less when traveling long distances. That is why the National Sleep Foundation declared Nov. 12-18 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents caused by a lack of sleep. Here are a few national statistics just to show how serious this problem truly is:
- 52% of drivers have driven drowsy.
- 37% of drivers have driven drowsy in the past month.
- 5% of the general population has fallen asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days.
- 28% of commercial drivers have fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days.
- 15% of heavy-truck crashes involve fatigue.
- 55% of fatigue-related crashes are caused by drivers under the age of 25.
- 1,550 people die each year due to fatigue-related crashes.
Think that you have never been a drowsy driver? Think about this:
- Less than six hours of sleep triples your risk of getting in a sleep-related accident.
- Being awake for 18 hours impairs your driving to the level of being legally drunk.
Drowsy Driving Causes Devastating Effects in Washington
Washington state troopers took advantage of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to speak out about drowsy driving. In 2010, 60 seriously injured motorists and 16 deaths resulted from drowsy driving. State patrol Chief John Batiste reminded us in a statement that “falling asleep at the wheel is as preventable as collisions that are caused by speeding and drinking and driving.”
To help motorists avoid a wreck, the state patrol made a few simple recommendations:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Do not be rushed to arrive at your destination. Driving at night or without stopping for breaks can turn a holiday weekend into a nightmare.
- Use the buddy system. Both driver and buddy should remain awake and stay alert for signs of fatigue.
- Take a break every 100 miles or two hours.
- Take a nap when you feel tired. Find a safe spot and rest for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure you are fully alert before you get back on the road.
- Avoid alcohol and medications that can make you drowsy.
- Avoid driving at times you would otherwise be asleep.
During your drive, stay on the lookout for the following signs of drowsy driving:
- Heavy eyelids
- Difficulty keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting rumble strips
- Missing traffic signs
- Feeling irritable or restless
Avoid the Three Driving Don’ts
The only person you can control is yourself. Help keep the roadways safe. Do not drive drunk, distracted or drowsy. Doing so puts you and all other motorists in danger, and it impairs your ability to react quickly in an emergency to avoid a collision.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, please contact us immediately. You may be eligible for compensation due to illegal or negligent driving. We provide a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys during which we will discuss your legal options.