Sleep More, Crash Less

It may come as no surprise that driving while drowsy is risky business. But, a recent study from AAA shows just how dangerous it is.

What does the Data Show about Driving While Tired?

The study conducted by AAA found that drivers who missed 2 to 3 hours of sleep per night more than quadrupled their risk of getting in a crash. In fact, fatigued drivers are responsible for as many as 7% of all crashes, 13% of crashes that resulted in hospital admission, and 21% of fatal crashes.

Bottom line, it’s about as risky to drive drowsy as it is to drive intoxicated!

How Can I Protect Myself Against Drowsy Driving?

The surest way to protect yourself against drowsy driving is by getting a good night’s sleep. But there are a few additional things to consider when it comes to being rested.

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep for adults each night. (Teen drivers: aim for at least 8.)
  • Practice good sleep habits. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity. Limit distractions in your bedroom, darken the room, and as much as possible, remove devices. Seek medical care if you’re struggling with insomnia or restless sleep.
  • Avoid/reduce late night driving. You might fight drowsiness most while driving late at night, when your body is used to sleeping.
  • Take care during road trips. In our post about road trip safety, we shared how driving for hours, particularly on long, monotonous highways may bring on sleepiness. Plan for frequent stops or switching drivers.

If you find yourself nodding off while driving, pull over! Grab a cup of coffee, get some fresh air, or take a quick walk before getting behind the wheel again.

How Can I Avoid Drowsy Drivers?

Even if you’re well rested, there’s always a chance you’ll be sharing the road with drivers who aren’t. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 35% of Americans do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. That means a lot of tired drivers on the road at any given time!

So, what can you do?

  • Be extra alert when driving in the late afternoon and late evenings. Expect that there will be more fatigued drivers on the roads during these periods.
  • Watch for tell-tale signs of drowsy driving. When people are drowsy, they tend to make careless mistakes. For instance, you might see them weaving, fail to signal, or change speeds erratically.
  • Create space. If you observe erratic driving, slow down, give yourself some distance, or take another route.

If at any time you feel that the driver is creating a dangerous situation, call 911 to report it.

What Happens if I’ve Been Hit by a Drowsy Driver?

Sometimes, even the best defensive driver ends up in an accident. Drowsy driving can be difficult to prove. Often, police and insurance companies only record it if the driver admits to being tired. Dash cameras and witness testimony can also help reconstruct what happened.

No matter what, please call our Tacoma car accident attorneys. Even if we can’t prove that the driver was drowsy, we may be able to help. It’s always free to call us to ask questions or get an initial consultation on your case.

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