Many people are not aware of the serious risk posed by drowsy driving. They don’t know that it’s just as dangerous as drunk driving or that it causes 20% of all fatal collisions in the United States. In many cases they may not even realize that they are guilty of doing it. Yet, with so many people dying every day because someone fell asleep at the wheel or failed to respond appropriately to traffic due to drowsiness, it is worth pointing out that these accidents are entirely preventable.
People rarely demonize the act of drowsy driving as they may do so with drunk driving or distracted driving, yet it is just as irresponsible to get behind the wheel when you feel like nodding off as it is to drive while staring at your phone or while you too drunk to stay conscious. Even if a drowsy driver doesn’t fall asleep, they are still not focused on the road or on their driving as they should be.
In cases where the drowsy driver does fall asleep, the resulting auto accident can be that much more traumatic since the driver was not conscious enough to make an effort to slow down or try to avoid the collision. Today, we’re going to look at the statistics that concern drowsy driving in the US and how you can prevent these fatal collisions from occurring.
Important Statistics Concerning Drowsy Driving in the United States
The US auto accident statistics from 2016 reveal that drowsy driving is a real concern on the roads of Missouri and every other state in the country. Over 325K auto accidents were caused by drowsy driving in 2016, and more than 109K resulted in serious injuries. Roughly 6,400 people were killed in those accidents. All of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented by the drivers making an effort to get enough sleep and avoid driving when they did not get enough sleep. Every driver should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep in order to be alert and safe on the road. Yet more than 30% of all drivers are not getting even seven hours of sleep. Those who get fewer than five hours of sleep are an astounding 300% more likely to be involved in a serious collision. They are just as at risk of causing an accident as someone who is extremely drunk while driving.
How You Can Put a Stop to Drowsy Driving Auto Accidents in Missouri
It is up to Missouri drivers to make a difference in these statistics in our state. You can start by evaluating your own situation. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you getting less than seven hours of sleep each night?
- Do you work odd hours? Third shift? Swing shifts?
- Have you ever felt like you were about to fall asleep while driving?
- Have you ever actually nodded off while driving?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you have a serious and potentially deadly problem. It is all too easy to take someone else’s life by failing to monitor your own safety on the road. Yet, you can make a difference and stop yourself from being the cause of trauma to yourself, your family, and someone else who could be injured by your drowsy driving. Following are some steps you can take:
- Change your sleep schedule to get at least seven hours of sleep.
- Carpool with co-workers or friends who work in the same area.
- Arrange for someone to drop you off at work and pick you up again.
- Pull over when you feel too sleepy to drive.
- Find a safe place to take a nap when you feel too sleepy to drive.
- Have a system in place where you know who to call when you are too sleepy to drive.
- Consider changing your work situation to avoid drowsy driving.
- Be aware of the symptoms of drowsy driving: yawning, heavy lids, lack of focus.
You must understand that you are just as big of a risk on the road when you are drowsy as those who drive drunk are. As upsetting as drunk driving accidents are, knowing that they could have been prevented by the driver behaving responsibly, drowsy driving accidents are no different. You have to behave responsibly when you are too tired to drive. Otherwise, it could be you who takes someone else’s life and must live with that forever. Or it could be your family who must grieve the loss of your life. Take every precaution to prevent these terrible situations from occurring. You can also teach others to avoid drowsy driving. Teach your children how to avoid these situations, and speak up when you know that a friend, family member, or co-worker is engaging in this unsafe driving behavior. It is essential to raise awareness if we want to see the rate of drowsy driving accidents decline in 2017.
What to Do if You Are Injured or Lose a Loved One in a Drowsy Driving Auto Accident in Missouri
Whenever someone is seriously injured or killed by a drowsy driver in a Missouri auto accident, there are going to be a lot of emotions involved. You may be angry with the drowsy driver. You may be grieving a significant loss. You may be out of work and unable to provide for your family while recovering from your injuries. This is where you need to know how to recover compensation. You will want to gather evidence at the scene of the accident if possible, and you will need to seek medical treatment even if you don’t think you are injured at first. Then, you need to contact the dedicated Missouri auto accident attorneys at the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm for a free consultation. We will fight for your right to fair compensation for all of your damages that result from the drowsy driving accident. Call today to schedule your consultation and get your questions and concerns addressed quickly.
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.