Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), drowsy driving is a factor in more than 6,400 fatal car accidents in the U.S. each year. This means that more than one in five fatal car accidents involve a drowsy driver. The NSC also reports that drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident if they are drowsy, and that losing even two hours of sleep can cause impairments similar to low-level alcohol intoxication.
While the statistics on drowsy driving accidents are alarming, these accidents are 100% preventable. Here are some of the ways that drivers can (and should) avoid causing accidents due to drowsiness:
All drivers should know the signs of drowsiness. While feeling tired is one of the most obvious signs, drivers can experience other effects of drowsiness before they feel like they are going to fall asleep. Some of these effects include:
Of course, knowing the signs of drowsiness doesn’t help if you simply ignore them. When someone notices that they may be too drowsy to drive, they should not get behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is negligent driving; and, when drowsy drivers cause car accidents, they can (and should) be held accountable.
If someone notices that they may be too drowsy to drive, the best thing they can do is get a ride. Fortunately, thanks to ridesharing apps, this is easier than ever. People who are too tired to safely drive home from work can also get rides from their coworkers. Just as people should not get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking, they should not get behind the wheel when they’re drowsy. The risks are the same—and the consequences can be the same as well.
If a person notices that they are drowsy while they are driving, they should focus on finding a safe place to pull over. While there are tricks for trying to stay awake like blaring the radio or rolling down the windows, these don’t combat all of the effects of drowsiness. Drowsy drivers need to get off the road and find a place to rest; then, when they are feeling refreshed, they can continue on their way.
While some people are drowsy when they get behind the wheel, drowsiness can also settle in while driving. It can be tiring to spend hours behind the wheel, especially if you had an early morning or a long day.
With this in mind, when going on a long road trip, a good way to avoid drowsy driving is to drive in shifts. If every licensed driver in the car takes a shift, sharing driving responsibilities like this can significantly reduce the risk of a drowsiness-related accident.
For people who constantly find themselves feeling drowsy or fatigued, it might be a good idea to see a doctor. While drowsiness can result from getting too little sleep or spending too many hours at work, it can also result from a variety of health conditions. From sleep disorders to various types of infections and diseases, there are multiple fatigue-inducing health conditions—and most of these can be managed or cured with therapy, medications, and other treatment modalities.
While health conditions can cause drowsiness and fatigue, so can asking your body to do too much. For many people, persistent drowsiness is a sign that they need to take a break. Lots of people are overworked, and lots of people do not get the sleep they need. Not only can catching up on sleep help many people feel better throughout the day, but it can help people avoid the risks of drowsy driving as well.
Speaking of the risks, another way to prevent (or avoid) drowsy driving is to consider the risks involved. Would you get in the driver’s seat if you knew you were intoxicated? As noted above, getting in the driver’s seat while drowsy can be just as dangerous. If people simply considered the possibility that their drowsiness could lead to a serious or fatal accident, most people would make the right decision and avoid taking the wheel.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving a drowsy driver, you have clear legal rights in Illinois.
To discuss your legal right with an experienced car accident lawyer in confidence, call (708) 358-8080 today. We proudly serve clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.