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Drowsy Driving Injury Accident?
In today’s day and age, driving a car while drowsy is more common than you would think. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 20% of drivers surveyed indicated they fell asleep while driving within the last 12 months and 50% of adult drivers answered they felt tired while driving.
Tragically, many drivers get behind the wheel when they are feeling tired or sleepy. Driving while drowsy can be extremely dangerous, and the effects can be similar to drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that an estimated 100,000 accidents are caused by driver fatigue every year.
The best solution is sleep but drinking a cup of coffee or energy drink can help you stay awake. However, be aware that the risks of driving drowsy can actually increase when drivers rely on stimulants to stay awake while driving.
What is Drowsy Driving?
Basically driving a motor vehicle during a time you are sleepy or fatigued is commonly known as drowsy driving. Drowsy driver’s level of tiredness cannot be measured like driving intoxicated. For drunk drivers we have a breathalyzer test, but a test does not exist for determining how tired or alert a driver is when they get behind the steering wheel. Driving while you are extremely tired is probably drowsy driving. Always remember the feeling of being exhausted or sleepy, when you are faced with the decision to drive, you are probably too tired to get behind the wheel.
Driving With Stimulants Increases The Risks?
The caffeine in coffee acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. Studies have shown that 85% of Americans drink caffeinated beverages daily, and depending on the level of consumption, caffeine can help to improve mental performance, especially your alertness, attention, and concentration. Stimulants can be harmful to your health in the long run. Drinking too many stimulants can cause heart problems, anxiety, dehydration, high blood pressure, insomnia and other more. Drinking stimulants may not work and these chemicals can even make you micro sleep which is a condition where you momentarily are unaware of your surroundings.
The following are common stimulants used by people to reduce drowsy driving, but they might not be as effective as you think:
• Coffee and tea: A common why people start their day is with a cup of coffee, which can help you boost your energy. However, consuming a large amount of coffee can disrupt your sleep patterns. You can also develop a tolerance to caffeine stimulant effects. Drinking tea is not healthier when used as an energy supplement because it can have the same kind of compounds as energy drinks.
• Energy drinks: Energy drinks like Red bull, 5-hour Energy, Bang Energy and Monster can make you feel alert very quickly, but they are typically unhealthy. These drinks contain huge amounts of stimulant compounds and other chemicals that can cause unwanted adverse side effects.
• Caffeine pills: Avoid using caffeine pills, like green coffee pills, to fake a good night’s sleep before you get behind the wheel. These pills are known to cause serious side effects like dizziness, shaking and nausea, and make drowsy driving even more unsafe.
• Overuse of Prescription medicine: If you have a prescription for stimulant medication, like Adderall, it should not be overused or abused. Avoid taking prescription stimulants to boost your energy, you can become addicted or they can have the opposite effect if you don’t need them.
Is Drowsy Driving Risky?
Driving drowsy is extremely dangerous, even if just traveling a short distance. In fact, researchers have found that driving drowsy is similar in many ways to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your reaction time will slow when you are tired or drowsy. You become less attentive and less focused. Here are some worrisome drowsy driving statistics:
• CDC reports 18 hours without sleep is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05%.
• NHTSA reported drowsy driving crashes often occur with the driver running off the road
• AAA reported drowsy driving contributes to an estimated 9.5% of all crashes
How To Prevent Drowsy Driving?
There are several easy ways to prevent drowsy driving:
• Stay off the road if you are fatigued or sleepy
• Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep. At least 8 hours is the recommended amount of sleep for the average adult.
• Practice good sleeping habits
• Develop a practice of going bed and getting up at the same time.
• Get Medical Help if you have a sleep disorder
• See a doctor if you have insomnia. You will need to watch the symptoms. • Avoid drinking alcohol or medications. Don’t take medications or alcohol because they can make you sleepy.
What Are The Legal Risks of Driving Drowsy?
Michigan does not have a drowsy driving law. Therefore, the act of driving drowsy and falling asleep behind the wheel is technically not illegal or punishable. However, you can still get pulled over for driving unsafely or losing control. If the police officer determines that you are sleep-deprived, you will likely get a ticket and a fine.
If you cause an accident due to being drowsy, you can be held responsible. Typically, drowsy driving can be considered careless or reckless driving in a car accident, leading to penalties like big fines, license suspension and sometimes even jail time.
Your car insurance company may provide coverage for an accident you cause while driving drowsy. However, the amount of insurance coverage you have may not be adequate to pay some of the damages you cause. If you fall asleep and crash into a pedestrian or other motorist where hit and kill someone, your insurance may not be enough to cover the damages, when you get sued for wrongful death.
Drowsy Driving During The Day?
You are at higher risk for drowsy driving at night than during the day. You can be more alert during the day due to your natural sleep cycle. You may not see objects as good during the night and the lack of traffic may increase your risk of falling asleep.
Always Listen To Your Body’s Drowsy Signs?
You are ultimately responsible for your body being tired and you know what your body is capable of doing. Listen to your body before you decide to drive and first determine if you are alert enough to drive safely. Only drive if feel completely alert and capable of staying awake behind the wheel. Any signs of being exhausted, fatigued, tired, sleepy, or drowsy, you should avoid getting behind the wheel.
You should get off the road and stop when you feel fatigued, tired, exhausted, sleepy, or drowsy. During any trip, your own self awareness your ability to stay awake and keep driving safely is key. If you feel fatigued or drowsy pull over and rest. Don’t risk your safety or the safety of others, if you feel too tired to drive stop and rest.
If Drowsy, Let Passengers Drive When Possible?
You can lower the risk of being involved in a driving drowsy accident if you take turn driving with another person. A passenger can help you stay awake. You can share driving responsibility if you have a passenger who can drive while you rest. Be careful with passengers who are distracting you, especially at nighttime.
Are There Healthier Alternatives To Stimulants?
Don’t rely on stimulants to stay awake, you should get enough rest or sleep when you are tired, or delay your trip until you are adequately rested. However, if you have must drive while you are feeling tired, you may look at the following healthier alternative:
• Power nap: If you sleep for just 15 to 20 minutes you can help recharge your body and make you feel more alert.
• Drive With Open Window: If you crack open your window for some fresh air, this can help you stay awake and feel more refreshed. The noise of the window coming through the cracked open window can help you feel more awake.
• Playing Radio: Play the radio and turn up the volume or listen to an interesting podcast to help you stay awake when you feel tired. Driving in silence can lull you to sleep. Your favorite music can help you stay focused.
• Pull over: You should pull over immediately if you feel tired or your tiredness is getting worse. You should take a power nap or get a bite to eat. You can take a walk and stretch to improve your alertness.
• Use essential oils: Peppermint and orange essential oils can boost energy. Keep essential oil in your travel bad to help you stay awake.
• Meditation: You can try meditation before you driver to help boost energy. Meditation can also help improve your attention, focus and concentration before you get in the car.
• Avoid alcohol: Any amount of alcohol can make you feel sleepy.
Drivers most at risk for drowsy driving?
In general, every driver is at risk for drowsy driving. The lack of adequate sleep has long-term negative health consequences. However, sometimes getting a good night’s sleep is difficult to do. Sleep can be difficulty if you have a constantly changing schedule. The following groups are at higher risk of drowsy driving:
• Teenagers: Teen and college-aged drivers are at higher risk of driving drowsy because their school schedule. Student putting in long hours studying, and working or engaging in after-school activities, and taking early morning classes.
• Parents: Parents with newborns are at higher risk for drowsy driving because infants can keep them up at night or they could be overwhelmed with keeping up with work and the kids activities.
• Long haul truck drivers: Workers who drive for a living, like truck and delivery drivers, are also prone to drowsy driving. If you spend long hours on the road driving, your risk of being involved in an accident caused by drowsy driving can be significantly higher.
• Changing Shift workers: Shift workers, like doctors, nurses, first responders and restaurant employees, could be more likely to suffer from drowsy driving, particularly if they are working late at night or early in the morning.
• People with sleep disorders: People diagnosed with insomnia, often deal with poor sleep habits that can lead to drowsy driving.
Does Vehicle Technology Exist To Help You Stay Awake?
In modern vehicles technology can help you drive safer while you are tired, such sensors exist for lane assistance to keep you in your lane, and automatically apply the brakes if there is a car crash danger. If your car does not have this technology, another option is to use mobile apps that are free or relatively inexpensive. Here are some apps we suggest preventing drowsy driving:
Apps to help keep you alert and focused
• Stay Awake Pro: The Stay Awake app allows you to drive as though you have another passenger in the car even if you don't. You can us functions to set up alerts to stay awake, and it has a useful feature like the "Talk to me" option. The operator talks to you and asks you to repeat words, and if you miss any, the alarm goes off. The app is designed to alert you just enough to help you stay awake, but not distract you while driving.
• Coffeeewake: The Coffeewake app helps drivers stay alert when they are tired. During operation, vibrations are sent to your iPhone and if you have Apple Watch, it will vibrate, and the device will ring to get your attention. You can command Coffeewake from your Apple Watch. You can simply activate and deactivate it at any moment. The discharges are at variable frequency according to the settings. If you are prone to falling asleep easily, just set a higher rate to get them closer together.
• Driveawake: The Driveawake app uses the front-facing camera on your phone to detect your eyes. If your eyes get sleepy on you, the Café Amazon Drive Awake Application wakes you up and routes you to the nearest Café Amazon branch for a cup of coffee before getting back safely on the road.
Injured In A Drowsy Driving Accident? Call The Drowsy Driving Lawyer For A Free Consultation.
You do not have to feel alone or helpless with your drowsy driver accident injury – The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm is here to answer your questions, provide legal help, and seek justice for you. No matter where in Michigan you may be, you can contact us at 248-352-2110 or toll free at 866-447-3563. You can also complete the contact form and one of our personal injury expert attorneys will quickly be in touch with you for a free consultation to answer all of your questions about your potential auto accident injury claim.
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