Studies show that adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night; however, most of us don’t get nearly that much. Our busy lives make it hard to fit in enough sleep. Yet, on an on-going basis, even one hour less sleep per day can affect one’s ability to drive safely.
Drowsy driving causes about 56,000 car crashes a year. Crashes caused by sleepy drivers cause about 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year. Some experts believe these numbers are an underestimate.
While everyone may experience drowsy driving from time to time, some groups of drivers are at high risk for drowsy driving. These drivers include:
• Shift workers
• Drivers who regularly suffer from sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea
• Drivers taking medications that cause drowsiness
• Drunk drivers
• Young men between the ages of 16 and 29 with irregular sleep patterns
• People who drive long distances at night
• New parents
It is important to remember that anyone who is sleep deprived may become a drowsy driver. Those who drive at night during the normal sleeping hours of midnight and 6 a.m., those who drive the same route day after day and those who drive for long stretches with no breaks, are also likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Warning signs of drowsy driving include:
• Driver can’t stop yawning.
• Driver is unable to keep eyes focused and open, especially at lights.
• Drivers mind wanders and thoughts are disconnected.
• Driver blanks out and can’t remember driving for a few minutes or miles.
• Driver drives sloppily and weaves through traffic, tailgates or misses signals.
• Driver hits the grooved strip on the edge of the road.
If you are driving and experience any of the above warning signs, stop as soon as possible and take a break. Taking a short nap or drinking two cups of coffee can save your life. You can also try singing along with radio and turning the air conditioner to cold.
Atlanta car wreck attorney Shane Smith represents injured victims of traffic accidents throughout the Atlanta and the surrounding area. If you have been hurt in an Georgia car crash and need help getting fair insurance compensation for your injuries and losses, contact our Atlanta law office at 770-HURT-999.