Drowsy driving claims many lives and is a major cause of car accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving caused 795 deaths in 2017. Many drivers mistakenly believe that they will never fall asleep while driving, even if they are tired. However, sleepiness most commonly causes accidents when drivers are alone in the car or driving on rural roads and single-lane highways. These accidents typically occur during certain times of the day, such as late night hours between 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. or late afternoons.
According to the American Sleep Foundation, drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash if they are fatigued. Individuals who work during the night, have late shifts, or drive for a living are prone to drowsy driving. Lack of adequate sleep can also cause drowsiness while driving. Individuals on certain medications or ailments, such as sleep apnea, also experience sleepiness while driving. Teenagers often lack adequate sleep and are inexperienced drivers that should exercise extra caution when driving.
The following are signs of an onset of drowsiness. One should take a break from driving when experiencing any of the following:
- Frequent yawning
- Drifting lanes
- Inability to focus
- Trouble keeping the head up
- Nodding off
- Difficulty keeping eyes open
- Failing to recall the last few miles driven
- Difficulty maintaining speed
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Accidents
Almost 20 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel within the past year. In fact, driving a vehicle after 20 hours without sleep is equivalent to driving over the legal alcohol limit. To keep all drivers and passengers safe on the roads, the following are safety tips to avoid potential drowsy driving accidents:
- Get enough sleep. Adults require seven to eight hours of sleep every night, therefore, it is important to get enough sleep. Staying alert involves an adequate amount of sleep as well as quality of sleep. Ensure that all electronic devices and televisions are turned off at least one hour before sleeping for a restful sleep every night.
- Read medication labels. If taking medication, read the labels to see if they cause drowsiness. Many cold and flu medications can cause drowsiness, so avoid driving under the influence of such medication.
- Collision avoidance systems. Recent automobiles are equipped with collision avoidance systems that will provide a warning when a driver is drifting lanes. Investing in a car with this type of technology can prevent drowsy driving, especially if the driver is in a profession that compromises their sleep or causes drowsiness.
- Take a nap. If a driver is unable to stay alert due to sleepiness, it is advisable to pull over in a well-lit designated rest area to take a 20-minute nap. Napping has shown to increase alertness for short periods of time.
- Use public transportation. When tired or drowsy, avoid driving. Ask another person who is more alert to drive you. Otherwise use a taxi, ridesharing service, or public transportation.
DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents
If you were involved in a car accident that involved a drowsy driver, the DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King will ensure that you receive the best legal representation. We will fight for your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we proudly serve clients throughout DC and Maryland.