On Oct. 31, a tired Paducah man fell asleep at the wheel and was injured when his vehicle veered off the road and hit a tree. Although what happened isn’t yet clear, what is clear is that drowsy driving is a high-risk problem that needs to be prevented.
This accident, in which the man avoided sustaining life-threatening injuries, is one of many drowsy driving accidents that occur daily.
About one-third of Americans are getting less than the ideal amount of sleep, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This number suggests that on a daily basis there are over 83 million sleep-deprived drivers on the road. This can lead to deadly consequences, as 5,000 people died in drowsy driving-related accidents in 2015, according to a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
It can be quite difficult for a person to determine if they are too tired to drive. Many people who are most affected by drowsy driving are people like truck drivers, health care workers, firefighters, and paramedics who work irregular hours or night shifts. For these people, there could be a high risk of driving while too tired.
It is important that drivers know the warning signs of drowsy driving. That way they are able to stay safe behind the wheel.
Drowsy Driving Warning Signs
You may be too tired to drive if you experience any of these symptoms while at the wheel, according to the National Sleep Foundation:
- Inability to focus on the road;
- Distracted thoughts;
- Drifting in and out of lanes;
- Frequent blinking or heavy eyelids;
- Missing exits of traffic signs; or
- Constant yawning.
What Should I Do If I’m Too Tired to Drive?
If you experience any of the above symptoms while on the road, you should immediately pull over to a safe location, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Drivers should not pull over to the shoulder of a highway.
Once at a safe location, you can roll up your windows, lock all doors, and take a 15-20 minute power nap, according to AAA, assuming local laws allow this. When you wake up, you could have some caffeine and make sure that you are fully awake, before heading out on the road again. Exercising after a nap can also help to wake you up.
How Can I Prevent Drowsy Driving?
The best way to prevent drowsy driving from occurring is to be well-rested. In addition to getting enough rest, you should establish a plan for your long or late-night driving.
For example, you can drive with a passenger who can stay alert for any warning signs of drowsy driving and get behind the wheel if necessary. You can also take into account when to take medications that may have a side effect such as drowsiness, before hitting the road. This can help to make sure that your driving performance isn’t impaired while behind the wheel.
You can also consult your doctor if you suffer frequent drowsiness when behind the wheel, as it may be a sign of a disorder such as sleep apnea. By consulting your doctor, it could save your life and the life of others while driving.
Even when getting the recommended sleep hours and knowing the warning signs for drowsy driving, accidents still occur. If you or a significant other has been hurt in a car accident caused by the negligent actions of another motorist, we can help. Read more to learn how our car accident lawyers can help you receive compensation you are entitled to after a serious accident. Fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form, if you are ready to pursue a claim.