Many of us in New Jersey would agree that there are times when we must go about our days even if we are really, really tired. We may have been up late finishing a work project, caring for a newborn or maybe we simply suffer from insomnia. Nevertheless, tomorrow always comes and we must go about our day as tired as we are. One decision we have to consider carefully if we are very fatigued is whether we are safe to drive. This is because drowsy driving can lead to serious car crashes.
Drowsy driving: the statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2019, 697 people lost their lives in a drowsy driving crash. However, the NHTSA estimates that 91,000 collisions in 2017 involved driver fatigue. These drowsy driving accidents led to approximately 50,000 injuries and almost 800 fatalities. Many professionals, believe that these numbers underestimate the true scope of drowsy driving accidents in the U.S.
How to avoid drowsy driving
There are some steps a motorist can take to avoid drowsy driving. Of course, getting enough sleep at night is the only real way to avoid drowsy driving, especially for teenagers who need more sleep than grown adults. Alcohol should never be consumed before driving, it can cause drowsiness and more importantly can completely impair your ability to drive safely. In addition, many medications both prescriptions and over-the-counter list drowsiness as a side effect. Avoid driving if you must take one of these medications. Our natural circadian rhythm makes us drowsy between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and again in the late afternoon. Avoid driving during these periods if possible. Finally, if you find yourself becoming sleepy while driving, try to pull over to a safe space, drink one or two cups of coffee and then take a brief nap. This may make you alert enough to continue driving for a brief period. Otherwise, stopping until you can get a full night’s sleep may be the best strategy to avoid drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving accidents will continue to occur, despite increased awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving. If you are injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver you will want to learn more about all your legal rights and options so you can make decisions that are in your best interests.