How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?

November 1 to 8, 2020 is being observed as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. It’s a reminder that even though many motorists get behind the wheel when they’re tired, drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving. In fact, it is quite similar to drunk driving and it can result in accidents that are just as serious. Driving after more than 20 hours without sleep is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. If you get involved in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, a South Carolina auto accident attorney can help you to get compensation.

Drivers who are drowsy have slower reaction times, reduced attention spans, and lower awareness of hazards. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately half of the adult drivers in the United States admit to repeatedly getting behind the wheel when they feel drowsy. Twenty percent even fell asleep sometime in the year prior to the study.

Drivers seemingly don’t realize just how risky it is to drive while drowsy. Drowsy driving is underreported since it’s difficult to prove a driver was tired or sleepy but the available statistics are sobering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says approximately 100,000 of the crashes reported to police each year involve drivers who are tired or sleepy. These crashes cause an excess of 1,550 deaths and 71,000 non-fatal injuries.

Factors That Contribute to Drowsy Driving

The National Sleep Foundation says a number of factors contribute to drowsy driving. These include:

  • Driving at a time when you would usually be sleeping.
  • Driving after less than seven hours of sleep
  • Having an untreated sleep disorder
  • Working night shifts or multiple shifts
  • Traveling through different time zones frequently

Drowsiness can occur at any time. However, crashes resulting from drowsy driving tend to occur in the late afternoon or between midnight and 6 a.m. These accidents tend to involve just a single driver who is the lone occupant of their vehicle. They tend to run off the road at a high rate of speed, showing no signs of braking. Drowsy driving accidents are more likely to occur on highways and rural roads.

Signs That You’re Too Tired to Drive

Sometimes, people drive while they’re drowsy because they don’t notice the fatigue, or they’ve come to see it as normal. A fatigued driver may drift off for four to five seconds, enough time for them to travel the length of a football field on the highway.

Signs of drowsiness while you’re driving include:

  • Difficulty keeping your head up
  • Trouble keeping your eye open
  • Yawning frequently
  • Difficulty maintaining your speed
  • Veering out of your lane
  • Hitting a rumble strip
  • The inability to remember traveling the last few miles

If you notice that you’ve been driving while drowsy, you need to take steps to prevent it from happening again. If you’re tired or sleepy, it’s best to take a cab, let someone else drive, or use public transport. When you have to drive, you need to:

  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep every day
  • Get a good night’s sleep before long car rides
  • Avoid drinking any alcohol since this will increase drowsiness and worsen impairment
  • Check your medications to see if they cause drowsiness
  • Avoid driving late in the afternoon and between midnight and 6 a.m.

What to Do After a Greenville Car Crash

There’s no test for drowsy driving so even if you suspect the driver fell asleep behind the wheel, you’ll need proof that they were negligent and that their actions caused your crash. Photos, eyewitness accounts, police reports, and surveillance footage can all be used to help prove your case.

In addition to gathering any evidence you can at the scene, you need to go to the doctor as soon as possible. Doing so increases the likelihood that your injuries will be diagnosed and treated promptly. It also creates a link between your injuries and the accident. You will need a doctor’s report to support your claim for compensation. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should still get yourself checked out.

Contact Hernandez & Cabra to Get the Help You Need

You can control your own actions but not those of other road users. Even if you do everything right, you may get involved in an accident caused by a driver who was drowsy. If your injuries and other losses are significant, you may find it very difficult to get compensation. The Greenville car accident attorneys at Hernandez & Cabra can help you to gather the necessary evidence to support your claim for damages. Your first consultation is free, and you won’t have to pay until we recover compensation on your behalf.