The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Missing an hour or two of sleep may not seem like a lot, but according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it can actually double your risk of getting into a Virginia car accident. Even more disturbing is how many of us are driving around without the recommended seven hours of sleep each night.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen because of untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, or shift work. Data from the agency reveals that 35 percent of drivers on the road are not getting enough sleep, which is leading to an alarming number of drowsy driving crashes. One in five fatal vehicle accidents is caused by a fatigued driver.

The CDC used data from a representative sample of 7,234 drivers who had been involved in 4,571 crashes. This data was collected from the NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. Only crashes where emergency medical services were called and at least one vehicle had to be towed from the scene were used.

The research concluded that if a driver has had less than five hours of sleep, they have a comparable risk of getting into a crash as a drunk driver. Missing two to three hours of sleep within a 24-hour period quadruples a driver’s accident risk, which is the same level of risk for a person who is driving while over the legal limit for alcohol. If a person gets less than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, they have almost 12 times the risk of getting into a crash as other drivers.

Almost all the participants in the study said they thought driving fatigued was unacceptable, yet more than 30 percent of them admitted to doing just that within the prior month of the study.

Symptoms of Drowsy Driving

It is important to know the signs that you may be too fatigued to drive. These symptoms include:

  • Having a difficult time keeping your eyes opened
  • Not remembering the last few miles you have just driven
  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Frequent yawning
  • Blinking frequently
  • Missing your turn or exit
  • Driving on the rumble strip on the side of the road

Keep in mind that many fatigued drivers don’t have any of the above symptoms before they fall asleep at the wheel. This is why it is critical to take breaks every 100 miles or every two hours when you are driving on long trips. Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. And if you do start feeling drowsy while driving, pull your vehicle over to a safe place to rest.

Contact a Virginia Car Crash Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have against the driver who caused the crash. Our Va. personal injury attorneys have worked with many injured clients and have successfully obtained the financial damages they deserved for their pain and loss. Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out how our law firm can help.