As we start to adjust our clocks to prepare for the time change, we need to ensure that we are still getting the adequate amount of sleep needed. The time change often worsens drowsiness and increases the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Studies show that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive and even mimic the effects of driving under the influence. According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving accounts for 1,550 fatalities every year. The National Sleep Foundation reports that nearly half of American adults have driven drowsy with 20% admitting to falling asleep behind the wheel. Car accident lawyers have seen an increase in cases and auto accident injuries related to drowsy driving during transitional time changes. This month marks the beginning of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. We want to ensure that you are taking care of your sleep health before getting behind the wheel by keeping these helpful tips in mind.
5 TIPS FOR AVOIDING DROWSY DRIVING:
1. HAVE HEALTHY SLEEP PATTERNS
Making sure that you have the necessary amount of sleep is the crucial way to prevent yourself from drowsy driving. Make it a priority to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Adjust your schedule gradually as you transition between Daylight Savings Time back to Standard Time to avoid drowsiness and fatigue. Establishing a consistent sleep routine and nap schedule can be very beneficial. Avoid getting behind the wheel if you are experiencing any symptoms of drowsiness, it is better to be safe than sorry.
2. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE
If you decide to consume alcohol, avoid getting behind the wheel. Not only is it dangerous but consuming alcohol induces feelings of sleepiness and significantly exacerbates drowsiness and impairs your ability to drive. Never get behind the wheel while under the influence. It is important to remember that even if you are not drunk, drowsy driving also mimics the effects of driving under the influence. According to the CDC, being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. Plan ahead and this will help prevent potential accidents on the road.
3. CHECK PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION
Make sure to always examine your prescription and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness or fatigue are a side effect. Have a plan in place for alternate or public transportation when taking medications that may result in drowsiness and never get behind the wheel.
4. DRIVE WHEN YOU ARE WELL-RESTED
The US Department of Transportation recommends avoiding peak sleepiness periods between midnight and 6 a.m. and late afternoon. If you can avoid driving between these periods, do so for your safety. However, if you must drive during peak sleepiness periods, stay alert for signs of drowsiness such as excessive yawning, missing an exit, or difficulty remembering the last few miles driven. It is better to pull over and take a break versus trying to rush driving in the fatigue.
5. TAKE BREAKS
If you find yourself noticing signs of drowsiness while driving, pull over. The Department of Transportation recommends pulling over for a nap to ensure that you do not ignore these signs and cause potential harm to yourself and others. If possible, drink one to two cups of coffee and pull over for a short 20-minute nap in a safe place. This has been shown to increase alertness in scientific studies, but only for short time periods.
Call An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
At Wilson Reeder & Zudar Law, your safety and wellbeing are our top priority. If you are driving while drowsy, this significantly increases the likelihood of causing an accident. Injuries related to drowsy driving can be traumatic, often resulting in life-long damages. If you or a loved one find yourself injured due to a drowsy driving-related accident, a WRZ Law car accident lawyer can help. An experienced car accident lawyer will advocate on your behalf to obtain full compensation for your injuries or loss.