Who hasn’t gotten behind the wheel after a less-than-ideal night of sleep? Drowsy driving is a serious problem in the United States, and it’s tied to a huge percentage of crashes and near misses. Issues arise both with the occasional drowsy driver—someone who drives after an all-nighter—and those who are chronically sleep deprived.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Nowell Law Firm at 864-707-1785 to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.
Similarities to Drunk Driving
In many ways, drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving. It impairs many of the same parts of the brain, putting the driver and others on the road at risk. However, drowsy driving isn’t widely recognized as a societal issue. People often overestimate their ability to drive while tired, so those who may call a taxi when they’ve had a few drinks might still get behind the wheel after a week of bad sleep. This means that drowsy driving is both a growing problem on American roads and an under-recognized one.
Impaired Decision-Making Skills
Driving while tired leaves you with weakened decision-making skills. Think about how often you have to make a quick decision when driving. A kid’s ball rolls out on the street, and a kid dashes out after it in front of you. You have to slam the brakes immediately to avoid a tragedy. Someone cuts you off on the highway, requiring you to back off or switch lanes. An unrestrained item flies off a pickup truck toward your car, and you have to immediately decide whether to brake or change lanes.
Being able to make fast, accurate decisions is crucial in safe driving. When you’re tired, your ability to make sound, evidence-based decisions are impaired. You may notice a threat, but not immediately recognize potential solutions. By the time you’ve decided on a solution, it may be too late to act on it.
Poor Hand-Eye Coordination
While brain function is a crucial aspect of driving, you must also be physically agile enough to drive safely. Imagine trying to switch gears in your manual car when your hand-eye coordination is limited or needing to turn on your windshield wipers when you can’t quite get a grip on the handle. When obstacles appear in front of you, you need to be able to act quickly. If you spend too much time fumbling for the button or switch you need, you could end up in a preventable accident.
Slower Reaction Times
Closely tied to impaired decision-making skills, slower reaction times are extremely dangerous for drivers. A wide variety of situations call for split-second reactions and decisions. Any delay can cause an avoidable accident. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous side effects of driving while fatigued.
Preventing Drowsy Driving
Being familiar with the signs of drowsy driving can help you stay off the road when it’s not safe for you to drive. If you catch yourself in any of the following behaviors, you may want to pull off the road to a rest stop for a power nap or a large coffee:
- Rubbing your eyes
- Forgetting long stretches of your drive
- Missing turns or exits
- Hitting the rumble strip
- Drifting between lanes
- Mind wandering or an inability to concentrate on driving
Certain populations are at greater risk of driving while drowsy. This includes:
- Shift workers and those who rotate shifts, since they never have the chance to get on an established sleep schedule
- Long-haul drivers
- People with insomnia, narcolepsy, or other sleep disorders
- People who use sleep medications
- New parents, people who work long hours, and other people who are frequently sleep-deprived
Turn to Nowell Law Firm If You’ve Been Injured by a Drowsy Driver
If you have been injured by a drowsy driver’s actions, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. We can help by building a case, gathering evidence, and communicating with the insurance company. Schedule a consultation now by calling Nowell Law Firm at 864-707-1785 or contacting us online.