The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a Sleep Prioritization Survey, which asked 2,003 adults in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. if they have ever struggled to stay awake behind the wheel. Startlingly, 45% said yes. The link between drowsy driving and auto accidents is all too clear: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that some 6,400 fatal crashes occur every year in the U.S. because of drowsy drivers.
With drowsiness comes impaired judgment and slower reaction times. In extreme cases, drivers may fall asleep, drift out of their lane and crash. Drowsy driving is 100% preventable, though. The AASM has some tips on how to avoid it. Everything starts with getting healthy, regular sleep. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Drivers should avoid going out at night when possible. On long trips, they should have someone along with whom they can alternate as drivers. For a short-term boost in alertness, drivers could drink caffeinated beverages. Playing loud music and rolling down the windows do not help. When drivers can no longer keep their eyes open, they can pull over for a nap.
Drivers should also be able to recognize the signs of drowsiness. They include frequent yawning and blinking, lane drifting, tailgating and an inability to remember the last few exits.
Drowsy drivers who cause car accidents will be held liable for any injuries resulting from them, and victims, for their part, may file a personal injury claim. It is might a good idea to see a lawyer first, though, since auto insurance companies are aggressive in denying claims. With a lawyer, victims may build up their case with all the necessary proof of the defendant’s negligence and then strive for a fair settlement. The lawyer might also handle litigation.