The Dangers of Sleepy Driving
More than 60% of the driving population admits to driving while drowsy within the last year! With all the obligations and stress of the world that demands people sleep less, drowsy driving is quickly becoming a national problem. Driving while you are tired impairs your driving in the same ways that distracted driving or driving while under the influence of intoxicants does. The problem is just as critical because of the almost epidemic growth in the population of people that don’t sleep enough.
It is essential to know the signs of driving with fatigue so that you can recognize the signs in yourself and others. If you are too tired to drive, you may experience aggressive behaviors, memory loss, or react slower than you usually would. Microsleep is another sign of being too tired to use a motor vehicle safely.
What is Microsleep? Should I be Worried About It?
Microsleep is sleep that happens in bursts — many people who are sleep deprived experience microsleep without even knowing that it happened. Microsleep has profound consequences while driving, such as leaving the proper driving lane, causing accidents, missing a light change, and driving at a speed limit that is too high or low. If you’ve experienced microsleep, you may have noticed your head falling and then popping up quickly to wake up. You could also close your eyes longer than usual or even stare at something for an unusual amount of time. Microsleep is also a major cause of auto accidents in the workplace and poor reflexes. It is typical for employees to experience microsleeps if they work a repetitive job or have a shift during the time that they are supposed to sleep. All these symptoms are caused by a lack of sleep, illnesses that cause one to have fatigue or intoxication that causes sleepiness.
Driver Fatigue is a real threat to you and others
Many people experience driver fatigue because they’ve consumed alcohol, narcotics, or they’ve used sedatives. With impaired decision-making skills, they choose to drive and become tired while they drive. There are also medical conditions that cause drowsiness while driving, such as having insomnia or narcolepsy. Someone that works an evening or night shift is more likely to experience drowsy driving because their circadian rhythm is affected by the hours they work. There is sometimes more than one cause for having fatigue behind the wheel. Driving for many hours without a break and not having enough sleep during regular sleeping hours is a typical combination of factors that cause drowsy driving.
The dangers of driving while drowsy are increased when a driver decides to push themselves to get to their destination. It could be a few hours or a few minutes, but everyone is at risk when there is a drowsy driver on the road.
Combating drowsy driving falls on the responsibility of the driver, but if you detect a vehicle in your vicinity that seems like it has someone that is impaired in it, you can take action to make sure that they don’t cause an accident. One of the best things you can do is report the vehicle and try to stay out of its path.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving and Microsleep While You Drive:
• Try to get the proper amount of sleep each night. Sleeping on a schedule can help combat drowsy driving during the day.
• Consider carpooling or having someone else in the car with you. Most drowsy driving accidents are caused by drivers that are alone in the vehicle.
• If you are stopping for coffee a lot, this is a good indicator that you should take a nap. Replacing sleep with coffee or other consumables with caffeine in them will not work as well as people think.
• Make sure there is fresh air flowing through the car. Cooler air is a terrific way to stay alert while driving.
• Chew some gum while you listen to your radio!
• Try not to drive at night. The darker it gets, the more your body will relax and want to rest.
• If you know, you are tired and need rest, pull off the road, and sleep. Get a hotel or use a rest stop to get a quick nap and refresh your mind.
For a full collection of sleep resources visit Tuck’s Full Collection of Sleep Resources
If you’ve been in an auto accident in Oregon with a distracted or drowsy driver, our attorneys at Shlesinger & deVillenueve are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve! Contact us for a free no risk consultation so we can review your specific situation.