Did you know drowsiness and sleepiness while driving can be just as deadly as drunk driving? Drowsy driving or driver fatigue, as it is often called, is a bigger problem in the U.S. than most people realize. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as many as 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths were caused by drowsy drivers. Unlike drunk driving which can readily be measured through breathalyzer tests, drowsy driving is difficult to pinpoint and may be responsible for up to 6,000 fatal crashes annually.
Why Driver Fatigue Is Dangerous
We’ve all felt the rapid, falling sensation as we drift into sleep unknowingly. The same can happen behind the wheel, but this momentary lapse into “micro-sleep” for even a few seconds is enough to cause a fatal crash. Drowsiness and driver fatigue are particularly dangerous on the road because it impairs decision making abilities and mental processing of drivers. Even if they don’t fall asleep at the wheel, it is very difficult for drowsy motorists to drive safely because they have:
- Trouble paying attention to the road;
- Slower reaction times when needing to steer or brake suddenly; and
- Impaired decision making skills .
Accidents with drowsy drivers typically involve them drifting out of their lane to collide with an object, such as another vehicle or a tree on the side of the road. These types of accidents typically occur between midnight and 6:00 a.m. when a driver is alone. Because the driver can do nothing to avoid a crash, driver fatigue accidents are usually very serious in terms of injury, death, and property damage.
Symptoms Of Driver Fatigue
While there are some people who are more prone to be driving drowsy, such as night-shift workers, people on medication that makes them drowsy, or commercial drivers, it’s possible for anyone who hasn’t gotten enough sleep to get behind the wheel tired. In fact, one out of 25 adults admits to driving drowsy in the last thirty days. Be responsible when you are driving and if you catch yourself with any of these drowsy driving symptoms, pull over and take a rest:
- “Zoning out” while you’re driving;
- Yawning, head nodding, or blinking frequently;
- Drifting into another lane;
- Trouble focusing and wandering thoughts;
- Difficulty recalling the past few miles driven; and
- Slower reaction time or poor judgment.
Tips For Preventing Drowsy Driving
Stopping driver fatigue is up to individual drivers and the best way to prevent drowsy driving is to not get behind of the wheel when you’re sleepy. If you know you’re going to be driving, make sure you get enough sleep. Typically adults will need at least seven to eight hours to function well. Develop a healthy sleeping schedule and stick to it. Drivers that have sleep disorders or symptoms a sleep disorder should consult with their doctor regarding treatment plans. Alcohol and certain medication can make you sleepy so be careful what you’re putting into your body before driving.
A Kansas City Car Accident Attorney You Can Trust
If you’ve had a car accident in Kansas City, Missouri, you need the help of a lawyer you can trust. At Krause and Kinsman Law Firm, we will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you need for your crash. Our team of skilled car accident attorneys in Kansas City has years of experience handling car accident cases successfully.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.