We have discussed drowsy driving here several times before now, but a recent report sheds light on how widespread this problem has become. As USA Today reports, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that drowsy driving may play a role in at least 9.5 percent of all vehicle crashes. For more severe crashes, that number rises to 10.8 percent.
These findings suggest a trend that is up to eight times worse than what federal agencies have previously predicted. (Federal estimates consistently blame drowsy driving on only 1-2 percent of accidents.) Since alcohol plays a role in nearly 30 percent of all accidents, and considering that drowsy driving is statistically just as dangerous as drunk driving, these figures combine to suggest over forty percent of road accidents occur due to some form of impairment.
Staying Safe on the Roads
Nearly everyone knows not to drink and drive, but far fewer people realize the dangers of driving while fatigued—and obviously there’s no law against it because drowsiness is nearly impossible to measure. What does this mean for your safety on the roads? Here’s what you need to know:
- Sleep is the only cure for drowsiness. Drinking coffee, singing and other distractions may keep you from falling asleep, but they ultimately won’t make you more alert or safer on the roads.
- Even short naps can help. Take a nap before a long drive, or pull over and doze for about 20 minutes if you get drowsy on the road.
- Bring a buddy. Taking turns driving on long trips is one of the best ways to prevent drowsy driving.
- Ten hours is usually the tipping point. You may be able to last 12 hours behind the wheel before getting drowsy, but recent research suggests 9-10 hours is a much safer threshold before you need to take a break.
- Look for the warning signs in others. If you see someone driving erratically or weaving on the roads, give them a wide berth to protect yourself.
Although drowsy driving is difficult to prove as a crime, it could be a sign of negligence in some situations. If you have been injured in a crash due to someone’s drowsy driving, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys may be able to help.