Drowsy driving is a significant issue in the United States; an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers have fallen asleep while driving in the last 30 days (source). There are many factors that can contribute to driving drowsy, such as taking certain medications, untreated sleep disorders, drinking alcohol, and coming off of a long work shift. September 1 – 7 is recognized as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in Florida, in honor of Ronshay Dugans, who tragically lost her life after a drowsy cement truck driver hit her school bus after falling asleep at the wheel.
Even if a driver does not fall completely asleep, driving while drowsy affects your ability to drive safely. Fatigue can cause delayed reaction speeds, make you less able to focus on the road, and can affect your ability to make good decisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injures, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, the CDC believes that these numbers may be underestimated, and that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. In order to protect yourself and those around you, it is important to learn the warning signs of drowsy driving:
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles driven
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Missing your exit
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.
If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over to rest or change drivers. “Cheats” or “hacks” such as opening a window or turning up the radio are not effective ways to keep yourself alert. For more warning signs, visit American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Labor Day Weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year. If you are embarking on a long drive this holiday weekend, please exercise caution, watching for the warning signs of drowsiness in yourself, and in the other drivers surrounding you. Should the worst happen and another driver hurts you or someone you love due to falling asleep at the wheel, our attorneys are available for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (239) 461-5508, or at www.Goldberg-Law.com. We hope that you have a safe and fun holiday weekend.