Nearly everyone is aware of the dangers associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yet few people know that driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous. Many drivers cannot tell when they are too tired to drive, or do not realize just how much drowsy driving affects their judgment and response time. Without enough sleep, the body will eventually give in. When that happens behind the wheel, the results can be catastrophic.
Data on the Dangers of Drowsy Driving
The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that 16.5 percent of fatal car accidents are caused in part by drowsy driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety polled more than 2,000 drivers and found that drowsy driving is quite common regardless of the danger involved. Approximately one in five of the respondents admitted driving while drowsy at some point in the 30 days prior to the survey.
The Sleep Disorder Center at UCLA also reports some concerning statistics. They estimate that drowsy driving accounts for 100,000 car accidents every year. The UCLA sleep center found that young male drivers, shift workers, and drivers who take medications that cause drowsiness are especially at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel.
Signs You Are Too Tired to Drive
Every driver has likely gotten behind the wheel without enough sleep. But when is a driver too tired to drive? There are a few simple signs that drivers should consider as cues to pull over and rest as soon as possible.
Some of the common signs you are too tired to drive are:
- Repeated yawning
- Difficulty keeping your eyes open
- Difficulty keeping your head up
- Rubbing your eyes, trouble focusing on the road
- Swerving or drifting out of your lane
- Irritability or restlessness
- Missing turns or exits, trouble following directions
- Forgetting the previous few miles driven
Preventing Drowsy Driving
Being a responsible driver means being alert, well-rested, and ready to react and respond to potential hazards. Safety experts suggest that a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep is required for most people to perform tasks at an optimum level – this includes driving. Drivers should also refrain from taking medications that cause drowsiness.
When embarking on longer road trips, drivers should drive during the hours they are usually awake, scheduling rest stops every two hours or 100 miles. Using the buddy system for long drives allows one person to rest while the other is at the wheel. Overnight stays are recommended for especially long trips.
We often underestimate the biological need for sleep and how powerless we are against it. With planning, patience, and lots of rest along the way, every driver can reach their destination safely.
Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Fight for Victims Injured in Drowsy Driving Accidents
Drowsy driving is potentially as dangerous as drunk driving. When a driver chooses to drive while sleep-deprived, they are putting others’ lives at risk. If you or a loved one has been injured by a reckless driver, the Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers at the law firm of AlpernSchubert P.C. can help. Dangerous drivers that cause serious accidents should be held accountable. Schedule a free consultation with a skilled Pittsburgh car accident lawyer to discuss your options by calling 412-765-1888 or complete our online contact form. We serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.