By now, most Americans are doubtless aware of the dangers surrounding driving drunk. Indeed, government-funded ad campaigns and public service announcements have done an admirable job in raising awareness of these dangers. Therefore it’s hard to plead ignorance of the physical and legal dangers associated with driving or operating machinery while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or other narcotics. However, a specific variety of impaired driving has flown somewhat under the radar. We’d like to take this opportunity to shed some light on the dangers of drowsy driving. A wake-up call, if you will.
Much like chemically-impaired driving, drowsy driving’s chief hazards come from the dulling of the driver’s ability to perceive dangers on the road and react to them. It also inhibits our decision-making capabilities, which can mean deadly consequences when drivers are drowsy behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates drowsy driving was the cause of over 90,000 crashes in 2017 alone, which may have caused upwards of 6,000 fatalities. Drivers should be aware of the symptoms of drowsy driving. These may include:
If you find yourself experiencing some or all of these symptoms, pull over and park as soon as possible. Your safety and the safety of other drivers is paramount.
The group most associated with drowsy driving are commercial long-haul drivers. Particularly truckers. Given the exacting schedules for the delivery of certain goods, truck drivers are often incentivized to drive to the point of exhaustion at high speeds on crowded interstate highways. Bus drivers can fall victim to similar hazards. Given the size and weight of both of these varieties of vehicle, it’s highly likely that crashes involving them will be catastrophic. Therefore bus drivers and truck drivers should take extra care to ensure they are properly rested and prepared to meet the duty of care placed upon them by their line of work.
Fortunately, prevention of drowsy driving is a simple matter: just get more sleep. Doctors recommend at least 6 hours and ideally 8 hours of sleep nightly. This will mean superior awareness and reaction time behind the wheel, among other myriad health benefits. The best way to develop healthy sleep habits is to adopt a sleep schedule and stick to it. Standardized sleep and wake-up times are best for achieving consistent and restful sleep. If you suspect you are suffering from a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about treatment options. This may include melatonin supplements or corrective headgear to ensure proper breathing. Finally, be sure to read the possible side effects of any medication you are taking. Many common remedies for mild colds and allergies include drowsiness as a possible side effect.
It should be noted that drowsy driving is a separate phenomenon from the trance state some experience colloquially known as “highway hypnosis.” While both can lead to large stretches of highway passing in the blink of an eye, highway hypnosis is generally not correlated with drowsiness. In fact it can be considered a kind of muscle memory.
If you have been involved in an accident caused by a drowsy or otherwise impaired driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This may include damages to your vehicle, your medical bills, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Don’t try to go it alone. Malloy Law Offices is home to the DMV’s car accident specialists. Our experienced and diverse team will fight for you and secure the maximum compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to get started.