Daylight Saving Time has sprung forward, which means we have all lost an extra hour of sleep. It is well established that the first week into daylight saving time can interrupt sleep patterns, which can lead to fatigued driving. Sleeping fewer than five hours a night increases the risk of a car accident by four to five times. In 2017 alone, drowsy-driving crashes claimed 795 lives, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Signs of Drowsy Driving
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly all drivers view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and completely unacceptable. But, nearly three in 10 motorists admitted to driving to the point of exhaustion where they could barely keep their eyes open.
Fatigued driving is so common that we’ve all done it at some point. There is no guarantee that you will recognize your body becoming tired behind the wheel. In fact, 50% of drivers involved in crashes caused by fatigued driving said they did not detect any signs of drowsiness before drifting off to sleep. According to AAA, here are some of the most common symptoms of drowsy or fatigued driving:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
- Having trouble remembering the last few blocks driven, missing exits or traffic signs
- Trouble keeping your eyes open or your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips
- Feeling restless or irritated
Preventing Drowsy Driving Crashes
Here are a few tips this week to prevent you from driving while tired or drowsy:
- Make sure you plan ahead. If you are planning on a long trip, take a friend with you who can share the driving task and can help identify the symptoms of drowsiness.
- Stop driving if you find your exhaustion having an impact on your reaction time, judgment or vision.
- Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol consumption can cause sleepiness, even if you are not impaired by it.
- Avoid medications that can cause drowsiness – whether they are prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a fatigued or drowsy driver, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California car accident lawyer will be able to advise you regarding your legal rights and options.