Shockingly, millions of drivers operate their vehicles while severely impaired. Alcohol may be the first thing that comes to mind since drunk drivers are responsible for almost one third of all traffic fatalities, but drowsy drivers are even more prevalent than drunk drivers. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adults drive while drowsy each year. The next time you pull up to a stoplight on a three-lane-wide street, look to your left and then to your right. One of the three of you will have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year because 37 percent of drivers fall asleep at the wheel at least once a year. Driving drowsy greatly decreases reaction time; makes you less likely to notice pedestrians, cyclists, and other cars; makes it difficult to stay in your lane; gives you an impaired ability to navigate technical sections of roads or curves; makes it more likely that you will ignore or not notice posted traffic laws; and makes you more likely to tailgate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy drivers put 71,000 people in the hospital each year, and kill 1,500.
Signs That You Are Driving Drowsy Behind the Wheel
The statistics do not lie. Most people have driven drowsy or fallen asleep behind the wheel on more than one occasion. While many people get away with it without any repercussions, at some point their luck may run out. Instead of continuing to drive, if you become overly tired behind the wheel, switch out drivers, pull off the road to rest, or find a motel for the night. The risk is not worth it. Listed below are common signs that a driver may be drowsy to the point of being impaired:
- Nodding head or unable to keep it up;
- Closing eyes extra long during blinking or taking moments to “rest” the eyes;
- Blurry eyes;
- Inability to keep eyes focused (blurry vision);
- Becoming agitated or upset;
- Inability to remember previous miles driven or turns taken;
- Drifting from the lane or inability to hold a straight line (constantly hitting rumble strips is a good indicator of fatigue); and
- Daydreaming or wandering thoughts (inability to focus on driving and noticing surroundings).
Regular Sleep at Night Cures Drowsy Driving
People who get enough sleep each night are much less likely to suffer from fatigue behind the wheel. A study carried out by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who slept six to seven hours each night were twice as likely to be involved in a crash than those drivers who slept eight or more hours per night. And, drivers who got five or fewer hours each night were between four and five times more likely to be involved in a collision than those who got eight hours or more. Unfortunately, Americans have very poor sleeping habits: 40 percent get six or fewer hours of sleep per night.
If you or a loved one were injured in an auto accident that was caused from the other party’s negligence by falling asleep or driving drowsy, contact a the law offices of Ohio Car Accident Lawyers . One of our experienced Cleveland, Ohio car accident attorneys will answer any questions you have and we can begin the work necessary for you to regain your financial stability.