Today's motorists are tired, thanks in large part to grueling schedules, jam-packed roads and the general demands of family and day-to-day life. Though the dangers of driving while drowsy are not as well-documented as those associated with driving after consuming drugs or alcohol, both behaviors have the capacity to affect you in similar ways.
A worst-case drowsy driving scenario involves falling asleep behind the wheel, which can prove catastrophic not only for you, but for anyone else in the vicinity. Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study, exhausted drivers are twice as likely as drivers who are not tired to make errors during crashes.
Like alcohol and drug use, drowsiness interferes with your ability to safely maneuver a massive piece of machinery. Fatigue also negatively affects:
- Decision-making abilities
- Reaction time
Some ways to reduce your chances of being involved in a drowsy driving-related accident are obvious, such as trying to maximize sleep at night, particularly when you know you are going to log long hours on the road. The following tips, too, will reduce your odds of an exhaustion-related crash.
Avoiding exhaustion on the road
Now that you are aware that drowsy driving is as risky as drinking and driving, you may wonder what you can do to reduce your risk. For starters, aim for about seven or eight hours of sleep a night, if at all possible, to maximize your brain function and general alertness. You may also note that many drivers report feeling particularly fatigued between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. and then again in the late afternoon, so if you are among those who feel this way, try and minimize your time on the road during these windows. Finally, if you find yourself especially exhausted while driving, find somewhere safe, well-populated and well-lit and take a quick, 20-minute nap. Grab a cup of coffee and try and spend a few moments inside a gas station or convenience store, where the bright lights may increase your alertness.
No matter how careful you are to get enough rest and not get behind the wheel while fatigued, you cannot always control the actions of others. If you have been hurt in what you believe may be a drowsy driving-related accident, consider getting in touch with an attorney.