Falling Asleep at the Wheel
An alarming new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that many drivers are dozing off behind the wheel repeatedly.
According to the government study, at least 4.2 percent of the 147,076 respondents interviewed for the study in 19 states and the District of Columbia said they fell asleep while driving at least once over the previous month. The study also reported that men were more likely to doze off than women and that drowsy driving actually declined with age. Motorists who said they snored or slept less than six hours a day were also more likely to drive while drowsy or sleepy.
Drowsy Driving Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy drivers caused 2.5 percent of fatal traffic accidents in 2009 and 2 percent of all non-fatal injuries during that year. Technological advancements made by several automakers to monitor the car’s movements and assess whether the vehicle is drifting away from traffic lanes have recently been introduced. However, not all vehicles are equipped with these sensors and it is still largely the driver’s responsibility to ensure that he or she is alert while driving.
Tips to Stay Awake and Alert
There are several steps drivers can take to ensure that they do not cause an accident by driving while drowsy. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends at least seven hours of sleep before getting on the road. It is also highly advisable to travel during the day instead of at night. Talking to passengers (without getting distracted) and listening to the radio can help keep you awake.
It is a good idea to take a break and stretch out every two hours on long trips. If you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open, stop driving, park in a safe location and take a nap. Continue driving only when you are ready to do so. Also, avoid alcohol and medications that can cause drowsiness.
Seeking Compensation from Negligent Drivers
Injured victims of negligent drivers can seek compensation from the at-fault party for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Anyone who has been injured by a drowsy or negligent driver would be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will help them seek and obtain the compensation they rightfully deserve.