We all know that drowsy driving is a problem. Many of us are taking on more than one job, trying to juggle work and school and often raising kids at the same time. It’s no wonder that drivers are often sleep-deprived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over a third of drivers in this country are sleeping less than the minimum seven hours per night recommended.
Research published earlier this year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that drowsy driving was at least one factor in almost 10 percent of all traffic accidents and nearly 11 percent of crashes where there was “significant” damage. Those numbers are considerably higher than those put out by the federal government, which estimated that drowsy drivers were responsible for just 2 percent or fewer of all accidents.
The findings in the study came from analysis of footage shot by in-vehicle cameras placed in almost 3,600 vehicles for several months. Researchers looked at how often drivers’ eyes were closed. Researchers saw drivers falling asleep, even if only for a few seconds. In that short time, some moved into another lane and sometimes off the road entirely.
One AAA official notes that while “missing a few hours of sleep each day can often seem harmless…[it] can more than quadruple your risk for a crash, which is the equivalent of driving drunk.”
As we head into the season of long road trips to visit family and popular winter vacation spots, AAA recommends the following to avoid becoming a victim of drowsy driving (or making anyone else a victim):
- Take breaks at least every 100 miles or two hours.
- Make sure that other passengers are alert, and trade off the driving responsibilities.
- Don’t drive during hours you’d normally be asleep.
- Don’t take any medications that make you drowsy or otherwise impair your responses if you’re going to be behind the wheel.
No matter how careful you are, if you suffer injuries in a crash with a driver whom you believe may have been dozing off or not fully alert behind the wheel, it’s essential to pursue all of your options for seeking the compensation you need and deserve to cover medical bills and other expenses. An experienced Georgia personal injury attorney can provide valuable guidance.