It’s happened to just about everyone. That feeling when you’ve been on the road for a while, the night is wearing on, and the radio isn’t keeping you awake any more. No matter how hard you fight, you just can’t seem to focus your attention. And while no one condemns the “drowsy drivers,” they can be every bit as dangerous as drunk drivers. A study from Farmer’s Insurance found that about 10% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel while another 20% admitted to momentarily dozing off.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 100,000 crashes occur every year as a result of drowsiness. The agency has conducted studies that demonstrate that staying awake for 18 or more hours and then getting behind the wheel has the same effect as being over the legal limit for alcohol. There is also a strong correlation between the greater length of time without sleep and greater levels of intoxication.

What To Do

It is important to recognize the symptoms of drowsy driving in yourself or in the driver (if you’re riding shotgun). They are:

  • Heavy eyelids, frequent blinking, difficulty focusing your vision
  • Impaired concentration
  • Missing an exit or traffic signal
  • Increased yawning
  • Drifting from lane to lane
  • Irritability

While drinking coffee, opening windows, or turning up the radio are common anecdotal ways to wake up, they are just temporary fixes. Studies have consistently shown that the only real way to get over the tiredness is to pull over and take a 20 minute nap. Even this short break is enough to restore your driving abilities.

Drowsiness most frequently occurs on long car trips. Let’s face it, driving can be a monotonous activity! So when you’re going to be on the road all day, schedule a rest stop every 2 hours or so and switch drivers or get out and walk around for 10-15 minutes. You may lose some time and get to your destination later than you want, but that’s better than not getting there at all.

If you or someone you love have been injured by a drowsy driver contact the offices of David Benenfeld for the legal help you deserve.