According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, approximately 75,000 people suffer serious injuries and another 2,500 die because of drowsy driving every year. Studies show that drivers who are drowsy and fatigued or fall asleep behind the wheel are twice as likely to die in a car crash, compared to other drivers.
Safe driving requires good driving skills and paying attention to the road. Studies show that drowsiness decreases important functions such as reaction time, decision making, coordination skills, memory recall, and attention span, all necessary functions for safe driving. Research shows that being sleepy or drowsy behind the wheel often impairs a person’s driving performance as much as alcohol and/or drugs. The effects on cognitive functions are similar to the effects of drunk driving where a person’s blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.
Studies by the National Sleep Foundation indicate that more than 60 percent of adult drivers say they have driven a car while sleepy or drowsy, and 38 percent admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. A lawyer Pasco County often sees serious, even fatal injuries caused by drowsy drivers who crash into unsuspected motorists, median dividers and heavy guardrails on busy freeways.
The risks for drowsy driving accidents increase under certain conditions and among certain groups of people including:
* Workers with multiple jobs
* Workers who change shifts frequently
* People taking certain medications
* People who have sleep disorders
* Commercial long-haul truck drivers
Commercial truck drivers who drive long distances to deliver goods are particularly vulnerable to drowsy driving accidents. Many suffer from sleep deprivation and chronic sleep disorders that significantly impair their driving skills. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 50 percent of fatal truck accidents are caused by drowsy driving or drivers who dose off behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving accidents can be prevented by getting adequate sleep. To function at full capacity, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If you’re feeling drowsy or sleepy, it’s best to avoid getting behind the wheel until you feel more alert. If you get sleepy while driving, pull off the road at a rest stop or coffee shop for a while.