A National Sleep Foundation poll recently reported that 28 percent of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Fifty-four percent admit to driving while drowsy. Since fewer than half of Americans claim to consistently get a full night’s sleep, these numbers are not surprising.
With the high-travel holiday season upon us, however, the risk of accidents increases as tired and frazzled drivers hit the road to grandma’s house after a marathon of work, shopping and holiday socializing.
“People think they can judge the precise time they are too tired and don’t realize that ‘drowsy driving’ is a serious danger,” said David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “It’s possible to fall into a three- to four-second micro-sleep without realizing it. That’s enough time to travel the length of a football field basically unconscious.”
Sleepy drivers who manage to stay awake are not immune to risk. Experts say that weariness impairs their vision and slows their reaction time. This seriously compromises their own safety and puts others in danger of an automobile accident.
Plan Ahead and Know the Warning Signs to Avoid Sleep-Related Accidents
The best way to avoid accidents while driving long distances is to get seven to nine hours of sleep the night before the big trip. Also if sleepy stop driving, for example pull over at a rest stop. Other tips include:
- Do not drive all night without a break
- When driving long distances, take turns behind the wheel with a driving buddy
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness
- Stop for a snack, a cup of coffee or a brisk walk to rejuvenate yourself every two hours or 100 miles
Recognize the Signs that Sleep is Inevitable
Atlanta personal injury attorneys advise that if you get sleepy, take a 15- to 20-minute nap in a safe place. Make sure you’re fully awake before starting off again. Pull off the road when you:
- Blink frequently and cannot focus
- Yawn repeatedly and feel your eyelids getting heavy
- Need to roll down the windows or turn up the radio to stay alert
- Miss a traffic sign or exit
Adequate rest and alertness can help you arrive at your destination safe and sound. This will also avoid endangering others. If you are injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, contact a Georgia accident attorney who can protect your rights.