By now, through increased public safety announcements and stricter enforcement for offenders, drivers are well aware of the dangers associated with drunk driving. Drunk driving inhibits drivers in numerous ways that are all imperative to safe driving. What most drivers and passengers are unaware of is that fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. The similarities between the two are eye-opening to say the least, and should cause drivers to pause the next time they get behind the wheel while sleepy.
Drunk Driving vs. Fatigued Driving
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), drowsy or fatigued driving is impaired driving. The NSC found 21% of fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2017 involved a drowsy driver. Around 6,400 fatal fatigued driving accidents occur annually across the country. Drivers who get behind the wheel when they are drowsy or sleep-deprived are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
Sleep deprivation has effects on the body similar to intoxication. Drivers who get behind the wheel after losing even just two hours of their normal sleep cycle experience a feeling similar to consuming three beers. Adequate sleep is necessary for the body to function normally; without the recommended seven to eight hours of a sleep a person each night, drivers run a four times greater risk of being involved in an accident than one who slept at least seven hours the previous night. This increased possibility of an accident is the same as that of a driver behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol level of .08, which is above the legal limit in Texas. The dramatic increase in accident likelihood is due to the toll sleep deprivation takes on the body’s senses. Driver visibility is impaired, reaction times slowed, and the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel and losing control is high. These characteristics are all similar to those of a drunk driver unable to properly maintain focus and control of their vehicle.
What Can Be Done?
Around 60% of American adults have admitted to driving while sleep-deprived, and one-third of adults have reported falling asleep at the wheel. The reality is that for most individuals, the idea of receiving seven to eight hours of sleep a night sounds like a pipedream. That being said, fatigued driving can be avoided. If a driver is unable to get a full night’s rest, they should watch out for the following signs of sleep deprivation:
- Heavy eyelids
- Inability to retain focus or daydreaming
- Inability to stay in lane – drifting or swerving
- Rubbing eyes
If a driver experiences any of these, it is best to pull off the road at a safe and designated rest area. Prior to getting behind the wheel, a driver can also take the following actions to prevent drowsy driving:
- Do not consume alcohol or drugs
- Do not drive between midnight and 6:00 am, as this is the body’s biological rhythm during which it will naturally want to sleep
- Do not rush, as this tends to lead to mistakes even on a full night’s rest
- Drink caffeine
- Have a second driver with you to take over or start the drive
- If possible, take a short nap before long drives
Lubbock Car Accident Attorneys
West Texas residents are more than familiar with the need to drive long distances. As we enjoy our open spaces, it is important that drivers be aware of their bodies and what they require to safely control a vehicle. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a car accident, contact the Lubbock personal injury attorneys of Liggett Law Group today for a free and confidential case consultation. There is limited time to act following a Texas fatigued driving accident, so don’t wait to reach out.