According to a press release from the National Sleep Foundation, about 96% of Americans surveyed believe that “it is unacceptable for someone to drive when they are so sleepy they have trouble keeping their eyes open,” but more of us drive in such a state than you might think. Around 33% of those surveyed admitted to having driven when they were extremely fatigued at least once in the last 30 days. What else should you know about drowsy driving and how to prevent it?
Learning More About Sleep Safety
One of the keys to preventing drowsy driving, the press release emphasizes, is educating more drivers in the U.S. about “sleep safety.” While most of us likely have not heard that term used before, it is a term that underscores the importance of getting enough sleep before hitting the road. As David Cloud, the CEO of the National Sleep Foundation explains, “people know that they shouldn’t text or drink when they drive, and that’s great.”
Yet, as Cloud went on to articulate, “many don’t realize that driving while drowsy is also dangerous.” If you are having trouble keeping your eyes open while you are driving, you can fall asleep “for just a few seconds and not realize it,” Cloud highlights. And if you do fall asleep for even a few seconds while you are traveling at highway speeds, you could travel hundreds of yards without having any eyes on the road. As a fact sheet from Distraction.gov explains, traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour (a speed that is below the average speeds on the I-10, for reference) for just five seconds means that you have covered the length of an entire football field.
What does sleepiness do to our bodies? The press release notes that extreme fatigue to the point of falling asleep can result in some of the following:
- Slower reaction times behind the wheel;
- Impaired vision;
- Judgment lapses; and
- Information processing delays.
If you are awake for 20 hours or more without sleeping, studies suggest that you are impaired in a manner that is equivalent to a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which is the legal limit in California.
Preventing Fatigued Driving Accidents
The press release emphasizes that drivers should always do the following before getting behind the wheel:
- Get at least seven to nine hours of sleep before you drive;
- Always drive with another passenger on long car trips;
- Take a break from driving every two hours or 100 miles;
- Pull over and take a nap if you feel tired;
- Do not drink alcohol or take any medications that list drowsiness as a side effect; and
- Consume at least two cups of coffee, or the equivalent in caffeine.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver, a dedicated car accident attorney in San Diego can discuss your options with you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about filing a claim.
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