The Dangers of Drowsy Driving and How to Prevent It

yawning driver

Many of us have been in situations where we feel tired behind the wheel. After a long day at work or after driving for many hours on a road trip, you may begin to feel the fatigue creep up when you are behind the wheel, which can impair your decision-making skills and cause you to be less attentive and have slower reaction times.

While you may want to push through and get to your destination, it’s crucial to understand the dangers of drowsy driving, the warning signs of it, and when it is safer to get off the road instead of continuing to drive.

Drowsy Driving Car Accident Statistics

It’s hard to measure the exact number of drowsy driving-related accidents, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2017, drowsy driving led to at least 91,000 crashes in the U.S., resulting in 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths. However, keep in mind that these are conservative numbers and it is believed that there are thousands more of these accidents that occur each year.

Additionally, data from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that:

  • Drowsy driving is a cause of 21% of all fatal crashes.
  • Drivers aged 16-24 are 80% more likely to be in a drowsy driving accident.
  • 45% of adults have admitted that they have struggled to stay awake while driving.
  • Certain risk factors increase the risk of drowsy driving, including late shifts, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, certain medications, and lack of adequate sleep.

Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving and How to Stay Safe

It’s important that you be aware of the signs of drowsy driving, especially during the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m., which is when drowsy driving-related crashes occur most frequently. You should pull over to the side of the road for a power nap, get a hotel for the night, or take shifts with another licensed driver in the vehicle if you are exhibiting any of the following signs:

  • Frequent yawning or blinking
  • Zoning out and not remembering the last few miles driven
  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Hitting the center rumble strip
  • Being unable to keep your eyes open
  • Missing your exit or turn

In order to prevent drowsy driving, you should also keep the following tips in mind:

  • Get enough sleep—most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take medication that causes drowsiness before driving.
  • See a doctor if you suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, or another sleep disorder.
  • Avoid driving when the sun is down.
  • Budget time for rest on a long road trip.
  • Use caffeine or energy drinks to stay awake.

Injured in a Car Crash? Get Help Today

If you are injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, you deserve to be properly compensated. While this person may not have intentionally hit your vehicle, the fact that they continued driving while drowsy instead of pulling off the road is considered negligence and means they are liable to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

At Peters, Habib, McKenna, Juhl-Rhodes & Cardoza, LLP, our Chico car accident attorneys have over 100 years of legal experience advocating on behalf of those injured in our local communities. We are ready to work hard on your behalf to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation.

Contact our team at (530) 342-3593 to get started with a free consultation!