We all know that driving under the influence is a big no-no. So, most of us avoid drinking or using drugs at all before driving. However, did you know that drowsy driving is nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence?
Before you pull another late-nighter on the road, you should understand the serious risks associated with driving when you’re tired.
How Big Is the Problem of Drowsy Driving?
The Center for Disease Control reports that approximately 1 in every 25 adults has fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past 30 days.
This may not sound like much (it’s ~5% of drivers), but when you realize how many drivers are on the road at once, that’s a scary statistic!
Obviously, automobile accidents are a legitimate possibility when driving while tired and a good measure of how bad the problem is.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports 300,000-plus accidents are the result of drowsy driving. These accidents result in approximately 70,000 injuries and 1,500 fatalities every year.
Who Are the Sleepiest Drivers in Florida?
As workdays and commutes get longer, it’s likely that any working person will drive while tired, but some pose a greater risk. The riskiest populations for falling asleep at the wheel include those who:
- Work at night
- Work extended hours (especially nights and swing shifts)
- Suffer from sleep disorders
- Are currently taking medications that make them drowsy
So keep your eyes peeled.
Signs of Sleepiness Floridians Should Watch For
Although you can’t control other drivers’ behavior, you can make sure you are not one who contributes to the problem of drowsy driving.
This is especially important if you are the driver of a larger vehicle, such as a bus, limo, or big rig which has serious potential to injure or kill yourself and many others.
If you catch yourself yawning or blinking frequently, you are probably too tired to drive. Also, if you notice you drift out of your lane, don’t pay attention to your speed, or miss exits, you need to get some more rest before continuing your journey.
Most accidents related to drowsy driving occur between 12 and 6 am. If you’re going to be on the road during this time, make sure you have had proper sleep, and also watch out for other drowsy drivers.
Taking Precautions on Florida Roads
The best way to avoid a car accident is to be fully alert the entire time you are behind the wheel. Of course, this means not driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, but it also means not driving while drowsy.
Here are other precautions to ensure yours and the safety of others on the road:
- Get enough sleep! This is obvious but our society has a problem with prioritizing sleep. Drowsy driving kills people. Get your sleep.
- Get treatment for sleep conditions that may be preventing you from getting restful sleep (such as sleep apnea).
- Avoid driving when it’s dark – especially between midnight and 6 am.
- Check your medications for drowsy side effects before taking and driving. This applies to certain allergy medicines as well.
If you do notice that you’re getting drowsy while driving, try rolling the windows down and/or cranking up the music. Drinking coffee or an energy drink might also be a short-time solution.
However, if you notice that you still just cannot keep your eyes open, get off the road and rest for as long as you need to.
Clearly, drowsy driving is a major problem in Florida as well as the entire country. It should cause as much concern as drunk driving, as it can have the same consequences.
Take drowsy driving seriously – it may save your life and the lives of the drivers around you.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.