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National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is observed every year during the first week of November. Now is a good time to review the dangers of drowsy driving and how it can be prevented.
Drowsy driving is a frequent occurrence and causes many car accidents every year in the United States. According to a study by the AAA, an estimated 328,000 drowsy driving accidents happen each year. Fatigue-related crashes most often happen between midnight and 6:00 a.m. as well as during the mid-afternoon. No matter the time they tend to happen, all of these incidents are preventable.
A drowsy driver is less likely to pay attention to the road. They are slower to respond to dangers and may not brake or steer away in time. Decision-making is also more difficult, which can lead to taking unnecessary risks.
Spending too many hours without sleep is on par with driving while drunk. For example, 20 hours is the equivalent of a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent.
Ways to tell if you are too fatigued to keep driving include yawning, blinking, or rubbing your eyes frequently. Cognitive clues include irritability, disconnected thoughts, and trouble remembering the past few miles. Fatigued drivers are also more likely to miss their exits, drift from their lanes, tailgate, and have trouble maintaining safe speeds.
Motorists who do not get adequate rest are more likely to be in drowsy driving accidents. Age can be a factor. Drivers under the age of 25 are vulnerable to driving while tired.
Medical issues, such as untreated sleep disorders or medications that cause drowsiness, may also cause motorists to lose focus behind the wheel.
Types of employment may also place people at risk for drowsy driving. Commercial motor vehicle drivers may face fatigue during long working hours. Employees assigned to nighttime duties or long shifts may find themselves driving while tired as well.
Consuming coffee or other caffeine products is not enough to combat driver fatigue. While they may provide a boost of energy, the effects are short-term. A person who is tired enough, even after drinking coffee, is at risk of falling into microsleeps. In this state, a person loses consciousness for four to five seconds and is vulnerable to causing an accident.
More effective ways to prevent drowsy driving include getting at least six hours of rest the night before a trip. When planning the drive, aim to travel during hours you are normally awake. Schedule a break for every two hours or 100 miles. If you feel sleepy, switch off driving responsibilities with another driver in the car, or pull over to a safe location, such as a well-lit rest stop, in order to take a nap.
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a drowsy driver, speak with one of the experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.