The risks of driving distracted or intoxicated are pretty well known. However, the dangers of driving while drowsy are not as taboo, and many people do not have any issue with someone driving fatigued. Driving without proper rest can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Drowsy driving is when someone operates a vehicle without enough sleep, possibly with an untreated sleep condition, and someone who is taking a drowsiness medication.
Drowsy driving is dangerous because it:
- Causes motorists to be less focused on the road
- Reduces reaction time if you have to break suddenly
- Affects the ability of the driver to make decisions
In Salt Lake City and all around the state of Utah, everyone has experience operating a car while they felt a high level of fatigue, and this can result in a personal injury claim in the event of an accident. There are many contributing factors that cause auto accidents to happen, such as alcohol, inexperienced drivers, and malfunctioning equipment. However, there aren’t many things more dangerous than driving a car while extremely tired.
How Drowsy Driving Affects You
Utilizing data from the “Sleep in America” poll from the National Sleep Foundation, DrowsyDriving.org states that “60 percent of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, 37 percent or 103 million people, have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.”
The same study has findings that provide even more evidence of how common it is to drive while exhausted. Of the population that has issues with drowsy driving, 13 percent say that the problem happened monthly. Four percent, or 11 million drivers in America, expressed that they had previously experienced an incident behind the wheel.
With our experience as highly trained personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City, we have poured through the statistics about drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that at least 100,000 car crashes reported by police are the direct result of an exhausted driver. This is deeply unsettling. Overall, there have been 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and a cost of nearly $12.5 billion annually in lost expenses in the United States. This is a dangerous trend that can put others at risk.
In the event that you or a family member has sustained injuries due to the reckless actions of another driver, you may need the help of an experienced Utah car accident attorney. We want to make sure that justice is served and the at-fault party is held responsible.
Harm and Death
There were a reported 824 deaths due to drowsy driving-related accidents in 2015. In 2013, drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 fatalities. Stats show that accidents are most likely to happen between midnight and 6 a.m, as well as the late afternoon. These moments are when someone may experience a lull in their energy as the human body is regulating its internal clock.
There are some definite warning signs that you can look out for concerning drowsy driving. Many of them can be easily missed, but it is important that you stay aware and pay attention to your own actions in order to know if you are at risk. Some specific warning signs are:
- Being lost in thought or daydreaming
- Having issues paying attention or frequently blinking (heavy eyelids)
- Inability to remember the last few miles
- Repeated yawning or rubbing of eyes
- Difficulty keeping your head up
- Drifting into lanes, tailgating, or hitting a rumble strip, road shoulder
- Irritable or restless feelings
There are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to be involved in these types of accidents. This could be due to their lifestyle or life choices. It is shown that commercial drivers and shift-workers are vulnerable to succumbing to drowsiness due to their long and changing work schedules. This creates a greater risk for these individuals to have a sleep-induced accident. A few at-risk groups for sleep-induced accidents are:
- Young people, particularly males under the age of 26
- Shift workers. Working a night shift heightens your risk by nearly 6 times
- Commercial drivers. 15 percent of all heavy truck collisions involve drowsiness
- Traveling businessmen who spend hours driving or are possibly jet lagged
- Individuals with undiagnosed or untreated medical disorders. This includes those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea, who have been seen to have seven times higher risk of sleeping behind at the wheel
Ways to Prevent Drowsy Driving
The only true way to prevent fatigued driving is to get a good night’s sleep, but for many, that is difficult to do. Experts have some suggestions about how to build healthy sleeping schedules:
- Develop healthy sleeping habits, like staying to a defined sleep schedule
- If you exhibit symptoms of a sleep disorder, you should contact a physician to discuss possible treatment
- Try to avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that may cause drowsiness. Always check the label of a prescription, even for over-the-counter medications, to confirm what the side effects are.
- If you find yourself getting sleepy while driving, drink one or two cups of coffee and pull over your vehicle for a short 20-minute nap. Pick a place that is safe and well-lit, like a designated rest stop. Academic studies have shown this has been proven to increase alertness for short durations
Car Accident Deaths in the Salt Lake City Area
Driving while drowsy can put you and others at risk of injury. In 2017, drowsy driving took around 795 lives in the United States. 1 in 25 drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once. This means that you or a loved one can be affected by a fatigued driver at any time. You should be prepared and retain the counsel of a qualified Utah car crash attorney.
Siegfried & Jensen employs the best and brightest attorneys in order to offer our clients world-class legal assistance. We have helped recover over $850 million for our clients, and we can help you get the settlement you deserve to get your life back on track. Contact us today at (801) 845-9000 to discuss your case today.