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Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Driving drowsy might not seem like a big deal. There are no laws against it in North Carolina, and besides most of us have done it at one time or another.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, have fallen asleep at the wheel. And these aren’t just exhausted working parents or single moms. Truck drivers. Business travelers. People with sleep disorders. Young people under 24.

Drowsy drivers are dangerous drivers. As dangerous as drunk drivers, often causing serious or fatal car accidents, according to AAA.

According to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study drowsy driving is implicated in 100,000 car crashes per year, which leave 71,000 people injured and 1,500 dead says the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Drowsy Driving Causes 1 In 5 Fatal Car Accidents

A recent AAA Foundation  study found that one in five fatal auto accidents involve drowsy drivers.

The same study noted that missing as little as one to two hours of sleep doubles
the risk of being involved in a car accident.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that being awake for 18 hours is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% – the limit for which you can get a DWI.

That is why many states have legislation on the books that make or will make “driving while drowsy” against the law. Currently North Carolina is not one of them.

How Little Sleep is Too Little Sleep?

Here is how much your risk factors increases the less sleep you get during a 24-hour period:

  • 6 to 7 hours sleep – 1.3 times greater risk of accident
  • 5 to 6 hours sleep – almost twice the risk
  • 4 to 5 hours of sleep – 4.3 times greater risk
  • Less than 4 hours sleep – 11.5 times greater risk

New AAA research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a
crash risk comparable to a drunk driver.

Warning Signs You are Too Tired to Drive

There are many indications that you might be drowsy or in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. Here, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is how to tell if you are too tired to drive and need to stop in a safe place and rest.

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming or having wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven or missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

Drowsy Driving Risk Factors

  • Sleep-deprivation or fatigue (6 hours of sleep or less triples your risk)
  • Suffering from sleep loss (insomnia), poor quality sleep, or a sleep debt
  • Driving long distances without proper rest breaks
  • Driving through the night, mid-afternoon or when you would normally be asleep
  • Taking sedating medications (antidepressants, cold tablets, antihistamines)
  • Working more than 60 hours a week (increases your risk by 40%)
  • Working more than one job and your main job involves shift work
  • Drinking even small amounts of alcohol
  • Driving alone or on a long, rural, dark or boring road

Warning Signs Another Driver is Too Tired to Drive

  • Vehicle randomly drifting between lanes
  • Car traveling at erratic speeds
  • Vehicle hitting rumble strip on side of road

What to do if You’re Too Tired

If you feel tired while driving, take the following steps to try to avoid causing an asleep at the wheel accident with another vehicle:

  • If possible, stop driving altogether and go to sleep in a safe place
  • Otherwise, take a 15- to 20-minute nap at a lighted, designated rest stop
  • Have a caffeinated drink in combination with a nap (caffine can take up to 30 minutes to kick in)

Adequate Sleep and Planning

Plan ahead before taking a long trip. Here are four simple steps to take to try to ensure you are well rested before you hit the road.

  1. Get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night if you are an adult, and 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours if you are a teenager.
  2. Bring someone along. They can share the driving, help keep you awake, and help you notice when you’re tired.
  3. Every couple of hours or 100 miles or so stop and rest. Get out of the car and stretch.
  4. It goes without saying, don’t drink alcohol in any amount, as it increases the effects of fatigue. And avoid taking medications that may impair your driving.

If You Are Involved in a Drowsy Driving Accident

If you are involved in a car crash caused by a driver who appeared to be asleep at the wheel before the crash, don’t wreck twice. Take the following steps to try to protect yourself:

  • Call the police and ask them to respond to the crash site.
  • Tell the investigating police officer you suspect the other driver was asleep.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene. Make sure to take photos of skid marks (or lack of skid marks) caused by the other vehicle. Lack of skid marks are often telltale signs of drowsy driving.
  • Talk to witnesses. If someone saw the crash, get their full name, address, email address, phone number and ask them to talk to the police at the scene as well.
  • Seek immediate medical attention, even if you feel fine. Sometimes you won’t feel the effects of injuries until the next day – or even longer.

NC Car Crash Lawyers Offer FREE Confidential Evaluation

If you have been injured in a car accident through no fault of you own, contact one of our experienced car wreck lawyers.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal
injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss
than they would have on their own*.

For nearly 20 years, car accident victims in North Carolina have trusted the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to handle their cases. Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

* Insurance Research Council 1999

Cristen Bartus joined the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in 2012, handling personal injury cases.

Ms. Bartus received her J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law in Ohio. She received her B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Toledo College of Business.

Before coming to the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, Ms. Bartus worked as a regulatory affairs contractor researching proper compliance by insurers. In her previous legal work, she also reviewed consumer complaints and conducted research for cases arising under the Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078