Working long shifts, taking care of family members, and having a busy social life does not allow for much sleep. In addition to endangering your overall health, it increases your risks for car accidents. When drivers are excessively tired or fall asleep behind the wheel, serious and potentially life threatening personal injuries can result. The following highlights the dangers of drowsy driving, who these accidents often involve, and how you can decrease your risks.
Car Accidents Caused by Drowsy Driving
Most people are aware of the dangers involved with reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and medications. Few realize just how much they put themselves and others in danger simply by not getting enough sleep.
According to the website DrowsyDriving.org, sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), being excessively fatigued or falling asleep behind the wheel is a factor in more than 100,000 car accidents that occur each year. Due to the fact that being tired is a detail that often goes unreported in collisions, the actual number is likely significantly higher. Those most likely to engage in drowsy driving include:
Drivers under the age of 25, who often go without sleep and pull ‘all nighters’ due to busy school, work, or social schedules
Shift workers and those who regularly put in overtime hours
People with untreated sleep disorders, which often go undiagnosed
Business travelers, who often suffer jet lag and do not get the same quality of sleep they would if at home
Commercial truck drivers, who spend long hours on the road, often without proper breaks or rest periods
The fact is we are all vulnerable to driving while tired on occasion. Unfortunately, many underestimate the risks involved and the serious impacts it can have on driving abilities.
How Drowsy Driving Increases Car Accident Risks
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is akin to driving with a blood alcohol content level of .08 percent, the legal limit in South Carolina. The effects of drowsy driving are similar to driving under the influence and include:
Diminished concentration, which makes it harder to maintain focus on the road
Slower reaction times, which can be dangerous if you have to swerve or brake suddenly
Poor judgment, which makes you more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding and tailgating
To protect yourself behind the wheel, avoid driving on a lack of sleep and pay attention to cues such as excessive yawning and feeling as if you cannot keep your eyes open. Rolling down your window or drinking lots of coffee does not help. Your best bet is to pull over and get some rest.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Drivers who engage in drowsy driving can be held liable when crashes and collisions occur. If you are involved in this or another type of car accident, the Surasky Law Firm, LLC is here to help. Contact our Aiken, SC personal injury attorneys to request a consultation today.