Drowsy driving is more dangerous than many people realize. While most of us wouldn’t drive a vehicle while intoxicated, some experts label drowsy driving just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Some estimates indicate that driving after being awake for 18 hours is like driving with a blood-alcohol level of .05. Driving after 24 hours of sleeplessness is like driving with a .10 blood-alcohol level. In other words, lack of sleep puts a driver’s coordination and safety on par with a person who is driving over the legal BAC limit.
How Common Is Drowsy Driving in the United States?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 60 percent of drivers in the United States admit to driving while drowsy at least once. Of these drivers, about one-third of them have fallen asleep behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of every 25 drivers has fallen asleep in the past month. Annually, about 6,000 fatal crashes are caused by drivers who can’t keep their eyes open.
Drowsy Driving in Louisiana
While the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that about one to two percent of all accidents involves lack of sleep, a recent study reveals that this percentage might be closer to ten. According to the most recent NHTSA data, there were 1,065 fatal car accidents in Louisiana that took the lives of 768 people. According to the study above, about 106 of these accidents might have been caused by drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Lack of sleep: This is the most common cause of drowsy driving. Drivers who don't get enough sleep are more likely to experience fatigue and fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome can disrupt sleep patterns and cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which can lead to drowsy driving.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and muscle relaxants, can cause drowsiness and impair driving ability.
- Alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drugs can impair judgment, reaction time, and coordination, making it more likely that a driver will fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Work schedules: Shift work and long work hours can disrupt sleep patterns and cause drowsiness while driving.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
While statistics regarding drowsy driving vary depending on the source, one thing is certain: it claims hundreds of lives each year. The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to recognize its signs. Drowsy drivers might convince themselves that they aren’t impaired. Knowing the signs of drowsy driving might save your life or the life of another.
According to the CDC, signs of drowsy driving include:
- Frequent blinking
- Missing exits
- Drifting out of lanes
- Contacting rumble strips on the side of roads
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent drowsy driving, including:
- Get enough sleep: It's important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep quality.
- Take breaks during long drives: If you're planning a long road trip, make sure to take regular breaks to stretch your legs and rest your eyes. Taking a 15-20 minute nap can also help combat drowsiness.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: If you plan on driving, avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs that can impair your driving ability.
- Be aware of medication side effects: If you're taking medication that can cause drowsiness, be aware of the side effects and avoid driving if you feel impaired.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help improve sleep quality and reduce the risk of drowsy driving.
- Create a safe work schedule: If you work a job that requires driving, talk to your employer about creating a schedule that allows for adequate rest periods and avoids working long hours or night shifts.
By being aware of the causes of drowsy driving and taking steps to prevent it, we can all do our part to keep Louisiana's roads safe.
Suffering After a Louisiana Drowsy Driving Accident? Call Clayton, Frugé & Ward
While drowsy driving might seem insignificant, it’s a preventable source of serious accidents. Eliminating drowsy driving from Louisiana roads has the potential to stop thousands from suffering from injuries and hundreds from dying. If you’ve suffered because of a drowsy driver, help is available when you call Clayton, Frugé & Ward. Since we began practicing law, we have served as proud advocates for those who need justice after a preventable car accident. We are proud of our record-setting victories because each one represents a client with restored hope. Because drowsy driving is preventable, you have the right to compensation for what happened to you—our law firm is ready to help you get it.
Our Louisiana car accident lawyer is ready to help you when you call us at (225) 209-9943. A member of our team is ready to provide a free consultation.