Preventing Accidents from Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving - or driver fatigue - is a considerable issue in traffic safety that doesn't often carry the same enforcement as other dangerous activities, such as drunk driving. Just last year, sleepy drivers claimed 803 lives. It is enough of a concern that the Alabama legislature is considering a bill that would require that information about the dangers of drowsy driving be included in driver’s manuals, license exams, and driver’s education courses offered at public high schools. This bill, SB221, passed in the state Senate this spring and is currently being examined in the House of Representatives.
Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Tuck.com, an online resource on healthy sleep practices, has a comprehensive look at the dangers of drowsy driving and how to prevent it. They define drowsy driving as an incident “when someone is too tired to operate a motor vehicle and, in turn, puts themselves, their passengers and other motorists in danger.” We encourage you to look over the article for more details, and would like to draw your attention to some major highlights.
60 percent of American drivers report having driven while drowsy in the last year - with 13 percent reporting ‘nodding off’ while driving in the month prior to the cited study. Remaining awake for 18 hours straight has a similar effect on driving as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05, while being awake for 24 hours is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10. Alabama law defines drunk driving as any BAC at or above 0.08, or 0.04 when operating a commercial vehicle, or 0.02 for any drivers under the age of 21. In the window from 2005 to 2009, drowsy driving is estimated to have caused 4,400 vehicle collisions and claimed 5,000 lives.
There are a number of factors that contribute to drowsy driving. Lack of proper sleep is the most obvious, and practices such as avoiding technology use in bed can help address it. Other factors include medications that can cause drowsiness, medical conditions such as insomnia and narcolepsy, driving for extended periods of time, and long working hours or work schedules that occur during periods when our bodies want sleep.
Having passengers in the car greatly reduces the chances of suffering from drowsy driving, and it is even better if at least one other passenger has a license and can take over if needed. Making use of rest stops can break up the long drive and give the driver a quick nap if needed. Since humans are inclined to sleep at night, it is recommended that driving be done primarily during the day, when the sun itself can help keep drivers awake and alert. It is important to always read medication labels to find out if they can cause drowsiness and respond accordingly, and to stop and get some sleep if drowsiness kicks while driving.
At the offices of Dean Waite and Associates, we care about your safety on the road and encourage all drivers to avoid driving while tired. There is too much at stake to take driver fatigue lightly. And if you or a loved one have been the victim of a car accident because of a drowsy driver or any other reason, contact us so we can work to bring you the justice you deserve.