Most of us have busy schedules, juggling multiple demands. Maybe you have small children at home, are a college student who spends late nights studying for tests, or you took a second job, working swing shifts to save money. For a variety of reasons, you may not be getting the total amount of sleep you need at night. Unfortunately, in our practice as St. Louis personal injury lawyers, we can attest to how this increases your risk of car accidents and injuries. The following is important information about how being fatigued impacts your driving abilities, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Driving while excessively tired or fatigued is known as drowsy driving, and it has become an increasingly common factor in accidents and injuries that occur on roads throughout the U.S. According to research from the American Automobile Association (AAA), drowsy driving is responsible for close to 330,000 car accidents each year, resulting in more than 100,000 injuries and roughly 6,400 deaths.
Driving while fatigued increases your risks of being in a fatal accident by more than 20 percent, and roughly one out of every six admits to driving on less than the recommended eight of hours of sleep. Alarmingly, close to nearly 40 percent admit to having fallen asleep at least once when behind the wheel. Every hour of sleep you miss impairs your driving abilities in a way that is similar to drunk driving. The effects of drowsy driving include:
- Vision impairments, particularly at night or in wet, rainy weather;
- Reduced concentration and increased likelihood of driver distractions;
- Lack of coordination, causing drivers to weave in and out of their lane;
- Reduced reaction times to sudden changes in road or traffic conditions.
Reduce the Risks of Driving Fatigued
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sponsors the Drowsy Driving website with the goal of calling attention to the problem and reducing the overall number of fatigue-related car accidents that occur. They advise that you can help to reduce your risk of serious injuries by getting between seven and nine hours of sleep at night and avoiding alcohol and certain types of medications which could make you more tired. During long trips, schedule frequent rest stops and have a traveling companion to take over if you become too tired to drive.
If you are already on the road and catch yourself nodding off or yawning excessively, the NSF advises the following:
- Be aware of rumble strips, which could indicate that you are drifting off the road.
- Pull over immediately to prevent an accident.
- Turn off your vehicle and take a nap, even if it is only for 15 or 20 minutes.
- Get some fresh air and drink coffee or some other caffeinated beverage.
Call an Experienced St. Louis Car Accident Attorney Today
In the event you are involved in a drowsy driving accident, contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers right away. Our St. Louis car accident attorneys provide the aggressive legal representation you need to get the compensation you are entitled to when injuries occur. Call or contact our office online to request a free case evaluation today.