How Common is Drowsy Driving?


Drowsy Driving – It’s more common than you think.

Your eyes droop, your head nods. You may recognize that as a sign you are getting tired. But when you recognize the signs, do you hesitate to get behind the wheel?

Most of us think we can power through the sleepiness and maybe have some coffee.

Understand, you are impaired. Going without sleep for 18 hours to one day can equal the impairment of drunk driving, according to a published study from 2000. 

An estimated 50% of all adult driver say they have driven drowsy in the past year, according to a survey from the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s estimated that fatigue plays a role in anywhere from 1 to 16% of all collisions, according to the AAA Foundation.

Shift workers, commercial drivers, folks on various medications – all of those factors can result in drowsy driving. Mix drowsy driving with alcohol consumption and there are likely more drowsy drivers behind the wheel than has ever been ascertained.

The Impacts of Drowsy Driving

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, missing just one to two hours of sleep a night will double your risk of a crash.

The effects of drowsy driving will:

* Slow down your reaction time and thought processes

* Impact your vision and judgment

* Impair your abilities

*Increase aggressiveness

The reason we don’t hear more about driver drowsiness is because it is difficult to ascertain at the time of a crash and generally doesn’t make it into a police report. There are no roadside breath tests for fatigue.

Some states have laws identifying driving while drowsy as a criminal offense, including vehicular homicide if another driver is killed as a result.

While Alabama has not adopted Maggie’s law, named for a 20-year-old killed by a driver who had not slept for 30 hours, it has named November 19th each year as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day.

Now what if that drowsy driver is behind the wheel of a big-rig? The damage from such a collision is likely to be substantive to the occupants of a passenger car. 

The experts say you should sleep at least seven hours a night, every night. This is especially important if you are taking a road trip.  Those who sleep less than seven hours in a 24-hour period are associated with a higher rate of crashes.

Unfortunately drowsy driving is very common.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of us sleep less than the recommended seven hours a night.  

Sometimes drivers can even fall asleep behind the wheel!

Solutions to Drowsy Driving

So what do you do if you feel drowsy but need to hit the road?

Powering through is not the best remedy.  Pull over and find a safe place to rest.  On a long trip, stop every two hours and walk around with enough energy to circulate your blood.

If you use the buddy system you can change drivers when it’s necessary. 

Coffee will help increase alertness for a couple of hours.

Basically being drowsy is the body’s way of saying you need rest – not that you need to get behind the wheel!

Personal Injury Law and Drowsy Driving

Chip Nix is an experienced auto accident attorney who understands the law in our state. Alabama has rules that apply to personal injury filings.

For example, Alabama is an “at fault” state.  In the case of an accident, when we can identify the at-fault driver, that individual’s insurance company is responsible to pay your damages. That may include your medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering.

Alabama also imposes a strict legal standard known as “contributory negligence” which will be used against you by the other side, even if you are not at fault for the accident.

Even a 1% contribution to the accident can prevent you from receiving any compensation from the other side.

Mr. Nix understands how this law can and will be used against you, and he is dedicated to advocating vigorously for your rights to compensation. With sound and experienced representation you have a much better chance of going to court or negotiating a favorable settlement so you can focus on recovery.

Call our office today at 334-203-6669 so Mr. Nix can discuss your options during a free consultation.

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