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.
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.
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:
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:
There are several easy ways to prevent drowsy driving:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.