About four percent of drivers fall asleep behind the wheel every month, according to government-obtained statistics through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That might not sound like a high number, but driving while drowsy leads to many unfortunate roadway tragedies annually.
Every year, the CDC estimates that up to 6,000 people die in car accidents directly or partially linked to fatigued driving. Tens of thousands more suffer personal injury needlessly for the same reason. These figures highlight just how important it is to understand why sleep-deprived drivers need to stay off the roads.
Victims of a car accident involving a fatigued driver are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer for assistance.
What Makes Fatigued Drivers Dangerous?
The average adult needs around seven to nine hours of sleep every night to function fully and adequately. After just a few nights of missed sleep, people start to lose their brain power, as well as their ability to respond quickly to stimuli. This makes sleep-deprived drivers unable to completely focus on their tasks, make smart judgments, and concentrate their attention on preventative driving measures.
Additionally, fatigued drivers may be more apt to run red lights, make wrong turns, or commit other acts of carelessness that can put everyone at risk. In fact, drowsy drivers tend to mimic the erratic behaviors of drivers who are intoxicated.
Why Do People Drive While Excessively Tired?
Most drivers are not surprised to hear that being tired makes them less effective. Yet they will still get behind the wheel. This happens for many reasons:
- The driver feels no alternative but to drive, whether to get to a job or to complete errands.
- The driver believes that drinking caffeine or having the windows down will reverse the symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as nodding off briefly.
- The driver does not want to ask someone else to drive, or to take public transportation for the day.
Regardless of why someone drives while drowsy, the result could wind up being a potentially serious or catastrophic car accident.
Are Some Drivers at Greater Risk for Sleepiness?
Any driver can be sleepy, but some drivers are more prone to consistently driving while they are drowsy:
- People who work swing shifts and have little to no routine sleeping schedule.
- People who have been diagnosed with sleeping disorders, even if they are getting treatment.
- People who take sleep-inducing medications.
- People who are not physically well.
- People who have stayed up all night.
- People who drive for a living and count on high mileage to earn a steady salary, bonuses, or commission checks.
What Should Fatigued Drivers Do?
Drivers have a responsibility to keep themselves and those around them safe. This means it is up to them to recognize the signs of fatigue and take action immediately. Some warning signs of drowsiness include the following:
- Being unable to stay attuned to the road.
- Falling asleep while driving, even if just for a few seconds.
- Missing turns and forgetting to signal other drivers.
- Experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations.
- Feeling uneasy or restless.
- Moving in and out of the appropriate lane.
- Being unable to remember the last five or 10 minutes.
A driver who exhibits these indicators should get off the road and stop driving as soon as possible. Finding a secure, well-lit parking lot or similar location to take a 15 to 20 minute nap can refresh the driver enough to continue driving, especially if the destination is a short distance away. Alternatively, if the driver has a passenger with a current driver’s license, the passenger could take over at the wheel.
Drivers who are sleepy and are far from their destinations may prefer to find a place to stay overnight, such as at a hotel or at a friend’s house. Arriving later than expected is much better than never arriving at all.
Atlantic City Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Work with Victims to Secure Justice
Getting in a car accident caused by a fatigued driver can be confusing, frustrating, and stressful. If you have been involved in an accident involving a drowsy driver, the experienced Atlantic City car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm can help you find the resources you need to get the compensation for which you are entitled. For a free consultation, call us at 609-926-3300 or complete our online form today. Located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Woodbury.