This time of year can take its toll on people. Family gatherings, holiday traffic, and Christmas shopping are exhausting. Did you ever stop to think about how that might be affecting your driving? Being awake for 18 hours straight can make someone drive like they have a blood alcohol level of .05. If a person has been awake for a full 24 hours and drives, it’s like they have a blood alcohol level of .10. This impairment makes a person less attentive to their surroundings and more easily distracted. It slows their reaction time, making it harder to avoid dangers in the roadway. Insufficient sleep is also tied to worsened decision-making, which can lead to risk-taking behind the wheel.
If a person causes an accident due to drowsiness or falling asleep behind the wheel, it can be tricky to prove. “The behavior of the car will indicate if someone drifted asleep. Inside the hood is a black box in newer model cars," Brad says. "It tracks the car’s speed, braking, how they veered and if they veered. The download of the black box from the automobile is very telling.”
The Harvard School of Medicine conducted a survey on this topic among truck drivers. Nearly half of them confessed to “drifting off” while on a long-haul drive. Brad says, “Fatigue in the trucking industry is especially dangerous. Tiredness and an 80,000-pound vehicle are not a good combination and could cause serious injury or death.”
Research also shows that catching up on sleep isn’t as simple as squeezing in a catnap. According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, if you are not getting enough sleep, then your body has a sleep debt. This debt continues to grow as you add on more and more hours of missed sleep. When this happens, drivers will find it harder to think and perform as well as they should.
To combat the risks of running on a sleep deficit, the American Automobile Association suggests taking a break every two hours or 100 miles, traveling with a passenger who can help keep you stay awake or share the driving responsibilities, and avoiding medications and alcohol that cause drowsiness. Because a majority of drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m., plan to travel during the day. Brad says, “If worse comes to worst, pull off the road and take a nap. It’s not worth putting yourself or others on the road at risk.”
Give it a Rest
If you notice any of the following signs of drowsy driving, you should look for the next available opportunity to stop and rest:
- Frequent yawning
- Feelings of dozing off
- Tired eyes, droopy eyes, or an increase in blinking
- Drifting into other lanes or hitting rumble strips on the road
- Inability to remember the last few miles
- Missing a road sign or exit
- Following other cars too closely
- Difficulty maintaining proper speed
Have You Been Injured In A Texas Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Bedford, Texas office directly at 817.440.3888 to schedule your free consultation. We help car accident victims throughout Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington as well as all areas of Texas.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.