We all know about the dangers of drinking and driving, but how many of us get behind the wheel when we are exhausted? Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to studies released by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Drowsy driving causes one out of every six fatal car accidents and is the cause of more than 12 percent of accidents requiring hospitalization, according to AAA estimates. This does not include the number of near-miss collisions when a driver dozes off then suddenly reawakens and gains control of the vehicle.
Nobody sets out to fall asleep behind the wheel, but it happens. Last spring in Jacksonville, a man fell asleep and drove his car into a pond off of Bartram Springs Parkway. Fortunately, he awoke when the car hit the water and was able to roll down the window and escape. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident, according the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Divers and a tow truck had to retrieve his car from the 20-foot deep pond.
A surprisingly large percentage of drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. AAA reports that a staggering 41 percent of drivers admit to falling asleep while driving and that more than a quarter say they have driven when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open. Of course, this presents problems not only for the drowsy driver, but for anyone else in his or her pathway. Even falling asleep for a second can be fatal. Fatigue is linked to poor driving performance, such as slower reaction time, reduced psychomotor skills, and faulty decision making.
Being a responsible and safe driver means taking an honest inventory of whether you are well rested enough to get behind the wheel. Today’s fast past-society with numerous commitments, double work shifts and a 24-7 mentality contribute to the problem of drowsy driving. Add to that the fact that 70 million Americans have sleep disorders and you can see why accidents involving drowsy drivers are on the rise. The National Sleep Foundation along with AAA launched a public awareness campaign last year to alert drivers about the dangers of sleep-deprived driving or becoming fatigued when driving.
The good news is that drowsy driving accidents are preventable. However, just as is often the case with drunk driving, people frequently deny how sleepy they are or fail to pay attention to important signs, like:
– Head nodding and frequent blinking – Trouble focusing on the road – Daydreaming or forgetfulness
If you notice any of these signs, or just feel sleepy, postpone your trip or ask someone else to drive. In addition, pay attention to signs that another driver may be drowsy (such as swerving) and stay out of their way.
Drowsy driving accidents are more likely to happen in the dark early morning hours due to natural brain rhythms. This can happen even if the driver has had adequate sleep. Similarly, monotonous routines, such as driving for long periods of time on non-descript interstates, can also cause fatigue. By paying attention to the signs of sleepiness, you can help reduce the number of sleep-related car accidents in Jacksonville .
If you or a loved one has been injured in car accident because of someone else’s negligence, contact our Jacksonville car accident attorneys. Our office is located on the southbank in downtown Jacksonville, but we are willing to meet with you at your home or a location convenient to you. You pay nothing unless we are recover damages on your behalf.