When we think about unsafe driving habits, we tend to think of the more commonly talked about cases such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted driving and texting while driving. One extremely dangerous driving risk that isn’t talked about enough is driving while tired or drowsy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year (www.drowsydriving.org). This is considered to be a conservative number because many people do not see the correlation between being tired and their driving performance, so because the two aren’t always connected, driving drowsy is not reported to be a cause of the car accident. With that in mind, personal injury or a car accident caused by driver’s fatigue is a very real hazard to us.
Many motorists ignore the early signs of fatigue and get behind the wheel anyway. We might think that we are an experienced enough driver to get to our destination without causing personal injury to others or ourselves because of the short distance of the drive or the experience we have as a driver. This misconception could cause a serious car accident, or even worse, fatality, and is not to be taken lightly. Recognizing the importance of this driving risk and practicing safe preventative measures against it will help you to avoid personal injury while on the road. Here are few things to remember before driving drowsy:
Make adequate rest a priority on a daily basis. Sleep is the best preventer. Ensuring that you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night will protect you from fatigue. This is especially helpful when you are taking a long road trip. Before getting on the road, be properly rested.
Teenagers often aren’t getting as much sleep as their biological need for sleep requires. Be mindful of your driving teenager’s sleep patterns and hold them accountable for being properly rested before they get in the car and drive.
Do not drink alcohol before driving. If you are sleepy, alcohol can increase your drowsiness and impairment, putting you in greater danger of personal injury.
Pay attention to warning signs of fatigue. If you notice that you are constantly yawning, rubbing your eyes, drifting in and out of lanes or off to the shoulder, having slow reaction times or are having difficulty keeping your eyes opened and focused, get off of the road safely and stop driving as soon as possible.
Do not drink an energy drink or coffee in an attempt to “cure” your drowsiness. Caffeine will not treat sleeplessness while driving and you will risk causing personal injury to others and yourself.
Be a responsible driver, prevent an unnecessary car accident by not driving drowsy. If you or someone you know has been in a car accident, please contact us at 661.833.1090 to discuss your legal options.