July 27, 2021

How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy Driving in Montgomery County

Balancing work and homelife leaves many people overextended and sleep deprived, which means that many drivers may be extremely fatigued. Driving while drowsy is a major cause of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 100,000 crashes are caused by driver fatigue each year. Most drowsy driving accidents happen late at night or early in the morning.

Drivers at Risk

Causes for driver fatigue include traveling for long uninterrupted periods, consuming alcohol and drugs, and using medications that cause drowsiness. Certain groups of people are more prone to drowsy driving and accidents:

  • Night shift employees
  • Employees who have worked long shifts
  • Commercial truck drivers
  • People getting less than eight hours of sleep each night
  • People with sleep disorders
  • People who have been awake for more than 18 hours
  • Travelers with jetlag

Going without sleep impairs driving ability significantly. Going without sleep for 21 hours impairs driving ability as much as driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent. Most adults require at least seven hours of sleep each night. Teenagers require at least eight hours of sleep nightly. It is not possible to make up for lost time. People need adequate rest each night to avoid being sleep-deprived.

How can I Develop Good Sleep Habits?

Many people struggle to fall asleep or wake up frequently during the night. Good sleep habits are important. Some helpful tips for good sleep habits include:

  • Get some exercise. Physical activity during the day makes falling asleep easier.
  • Eliminate distractions. Electronic devices should not be kept in the bedroom.
  • Eat light at night. Having large meals, caffeine, or alcohol shortly before bedtime can interfere with the ability to fall asleep.
  • Bedroom setup. A quiet, dark, relaxing, bedroom kept at a comfortable temperature can help one sleep.
  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time every morning, including on weekends.

What are the Signs of Drowsy Driving?

Most people are aware that excessive yawning and rubbing of the eyes are signs of drowsiness. Other signs that may not be as obvious include:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Slow reactions to unusual road conditions
  • Erratic driving
  • Nodding off
  • Restlessness
  • Experiencing hallucinations

It is possible for a tired motorist to fall asleep for a brief moment while driving. This can lead to catastrophic outcomes, such as veering into oncoming traffic, off the road, or into a stationary object. Combining use of drugs or alcohol with drowsiness will exacerbate impairments.

What Should I Do if I am Experiencing Driver Fatigue?

A driver that is tired or drowsy needs to pay attention to their performance. If they are experiencing signs of drowsiness, they need to pull over to a safe place and get some rest. There is no cure for tiredness besides adequate rest. Although a brief nap may only provide temporary relief, it is far better than ignoring the signs of fatigue. A nap can relieve symptoms of fatigue and make it safer to drive for several hours. It is best to wait until fully awake before driving again.

Many people believe consuming caffeine is a good alternative to taking a nap, but that is not true. Any alertness from caffeine while tired can wear off quickly.  Some believe distractions, such as keeping the windows open if it is cold outside or blasting loud music, will help, but these are not effective strategies.

A passenger in a vehicle with a drowsy driver should alert the motorist and encourage them to stop driving. If the passenger is not drowsy they can offer to drive instead. If a drowsy driver is witnessed driving erratically, then the authorities should be notified to address the danger.

What Should I Do After a Drowsy Driving Accident?

Being in a car crash is upsetting and unnerving. The first step to do is to get to a safe location that is away from traffic if it is possible. Contact the authorities and request an ambulance. It is important to obtain contact and insurance information from others involved. Be sure to notify the insurance company of the accident.

It is always best to go to the doctor after a collision. Some injuries are serious and do not cause a significant amount of pain, such as concussions and internal organ damage. If left untreated or if treatment is delayed, these injuries can worsen quickly. The sooner an injury is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

It is also important to keep track of medical expenses, including hospital visits, doctors appointments, prescription medications, surgery, and physical therapy sessions. These expenses can add up quickly.

Each state has different laws regarding minimum insurance coverage and property and liability coverage mandatory minimums. In Pennsylvania, there is a no-fault law that ensures all accident victims to have auto insurance protection to help pay for damages to property and injuries. The goal of this form of insurance is to reduce legal fights among motorists.

If the costs of property damage and injuries exceed coverage on an at-fault vehicle, no-fault auto insurance protections cover the rest up to policy maximums. Understanding car insurance coverage can be difficult. There is a risk of not getting compensated for all of the expenses. Insurance adjustors may make a modest offer to an accident victim, and acceptance of the offer can foreclose the ability to seek full compensation later. Adjustors are employed by insurance companies that protect their profits by minimizing payouts. Unless property damage and injuries are minor, it is important to get an experienced car accident lawyer.

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano, III P.C. Advocate for Those Injured by Drowsy Drivers

If you have been seriously injured in a drowsy driving collision, the Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano, III P.C. can help you build a case. Drowsy driving is dangerous and can cause significant injuries. You may need a legal advocate by your side after a drowsy driving accident. Call 267-861-7100 or fill out an online form to set up a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Norristown.