November 3 – 11 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. During this time, it’s a good idea to consider your own driving habits to make sure you are doing everything possible to keep yourself – and everyone you share the road with – safe.
Research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found 20% of participants willing to admit to falling asleep behind the wheel within the past 12 months. An alarming 40% admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once during their driving career.
Each time a person falls asleep behind the wheel, they place everyone on the road at risk. AAA research has found an average of 328,000 car accidents are caused by drowsy driving every year, resulting in nearly 110,000 injuries and nearly 6,500 fatalities.
Not Exactly Sleeping…
Many drowsy drivers are able to stay awake. This is not an achievement to celebrate. Like intoxication, being overly-tired impacts a person’s ability to make reasonable decisions in a short period of time. Studies have found that after 20 hours without sleep, the human body and mind function in the exact manner as someone with a BAC of .08. Driving with a BAC of .08 is a criminal offense. Driving while fatigued, while not illegal, is just as negligent.
While 40% of adult drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once, 60% admit to driving while drowsy. Men and women with children, shift workers, and people with medical disorders such as sleep apnea, are all at heightened risk for drowsy driving, but it is people who are under the age of 25 who cause the largest number of drowsy driving accidents.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed by a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to significant compensation but, because there is no way to field test for fatigue, proving the driver was drowsy may pose some complexities. It is always a good idea to work with an experienced auto accident attorney who can investigate your accident, identify all possible causes, and build your case based on those factors. Jonathan Sar and Sean Leventhal welcome an opportunity to meet with you free of charge to discuss your accident, your options, and your rights.
You can Prevent Drowsy Driving Accidents
You cannot stop others from driving while drowsy, but you can take steps to make sure you are not contributing to the problem. AAA reports that drivers who have slept for six to seven hours are twice as likely to cause an accident as those who have slept for eight or more. Even more worrisome, those operating on five hours of sleep or less are five times as likely to cause an accident. The first step in preventing drowsy driving is to get enough sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping, it is well worth your time to meet with a sleep specialist who can diagnose the underlying problem and help you get a full night’s sleep. Not only does fatigue impact your ability to drive, but it can also result in cognitive decline, memory loss, mood disorders, eating disorders, and a host of mental and physical health issues. Seeing a somnologist is the first step in protecting your health and safety if you struggle with sleep. Correcting your sleeping habits is the first step in protecting the health and safety of everyone you share the road with.
Am I Drowsy?
Signs of fatigue while driving include:
- Frequent yawning
- Difficulties keeping eyes open
- “Nodding off”
- Lane drifting
- Dramatic speed fluctuations
- Having no memory of the last few miles
- Missing exits
If you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of fatigued driving, pull over and rest. You may be a little late to where you’re going, but driving while fatigued may prevent you from getting to your destination at all.
As we approach the holiday season, attentive driving is all the more important. 55 million people will be driving for Thanksgiving alone and, if you plan on being among them, staying alert is essential. Be honest with yourself before you leave the house and be willing to take breaks as needed if fatigue becomes a problem. This will help prevent you from causing an accident and may even allow you to avoid one being caused by someone else.
Injured by a Drowsy Driver? Call Leventhal Sar for Help
Of course, no matter how cautious and thoughtful you drive, there are people on the road who place their plans over everyone else’s safety. If you are injured by a negligent, distracted, drunk, or drowsy driver, Leventhal Sar LLC can help. Call us today at 720-667-3030 to schedule a complimentary consultation and learn more. We serve the Metro Denver area and all surrounding Northern Colorado communities.