Author: P. Christopher Guedri, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney
Drunk and distracted driving frequently make the highway safety headlines today; however, drowsy driving is just as dangerous and far more prevalent. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60% of adult drivers admitted to having driven a car while drowsy in the past year, and more than 35% claimed to have fallen asleep at the wheel! Numbers like these indicate a profound lack of understanding for how dangerous it is to drive while drowsy.
To increase awareness of thiscombat this unawareness, the National Sleep Foundation has declared the week of November 6 - 12 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. The purpose of this week is to educate drivers about the dangers of driving while drowsy and prevent some of the deaths and injuries caused by drowsy driving every year.
Drowsy driving creates dangerous situations above and beyond other poor driving practices. For example, drunk drivers are typically found on local roads making relatively short trips, usually trying to get home from wherever they have been drinking. However, drowsy driving is most common on long road trips, meaning that drowsy drivers are likely to doze off on the highway while traveling at very high speeds. Furthermore, there is no test for drowsy driving. Even after an accident, there is often no way to tell if the driver at fault was sleeping or dozing, which makes tracking and punishing drowsy drivers nearly impossible.
Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving
Here are some signs that a driver to stop and rest:
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
Drowsy Driving Prevention Tips
Drowsy driving can happen to anyone. A driver’s level of tiredness can increase slowly on a long trip, without the driver realizing that their behavior has become dangerous. To prevent drowsy driving, follow these steps:
- Get enough sleep before driving
- While traveling, talk to the passengers in your car
- Schedule a short break every two hours or 100 miles
Common “short-term” methods to combat drowsiness, such as rolling down the windows or listening to loud music, may give a momentary burst of alertness, but they cannot help a drowsy driver for more than a couple of minutes. If you find yourself relying on these techniques, you should pull over and rest.
Drowsy driving is a prevalent, extremely dangerous behavior that can be prevented by taking a few simple precautions. Every injury and death caused by a sleepy driver is a tragedy, and events like Drowsy Driving Prevention Week can help us end this trend.
About The Author: Chris Guedri was named "Lawyer of the Year 2015" by Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury-Plaintiffs in Richmond, VA. He has more than 30 years of experience and is a trial attorney and partner with the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.