In 2015, a 20-year old woman had just finished an overnight shift at a clothing store and was driving home when her drowsiness took over. She had only slept 3 of the last 36 hours, which caused her to crash into another car, killing the other driver. The 20-year old received up to two years in prison, and her license was suspended for three years.
She knew she shouldn’t have been driving because she was exhausted, and her actions had severe consequences. This accident shows that driving while tired is just as dangerous as drunk driving because your reaction time is delayed, and you have trouble focusing on what you’re doing.
Each year, there are about 37,000 car crashes caused by drowsy driving that result in injury, and just under 1,000 that are fatal, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA goes on to say that most drowsy driving crashes occur between midnight and 6 in the morning, and usually are single vehicle crashes with just a driver. So how do you know when you’re too tired to drive?
How to Tell if You’re Too Drowsy to Drive
Even though it’s dangerous, plenty of people drive while drowsy. According to an article by the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans have admitted to driving while feeling sleepy, and 37% say they have fallen asleep at the wheel. These people believe they are pushing through their exhaustion to get where they need to go, but what they don’t realize is that driving in that tired state could compromise if they’ll arrive at all.
You shouldn’t risk your own life and the lives of others by driving when you’re drowsy. Here’s how to know if you’re too tired to drive so you can prevent a car accident:
- Difficulty focusing
- Can’t remember the past couple miles
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Excessive yawning
- Drooping head or heavy eyes
- Drifting and hitting rumble strips
What to Do If You’re Too Sleepy to Drive
Before she drove home, the 20-year old from above texted a friend saying that she was so tired that she probably wouldn’t remember the drive home. When you realize that you’re that exhausted, you should take some steps to keep from falling asleep at the wheel. If you’re driving and feel yourself getting too drowsy, here’s what you should do:
- Talk to someone. Engaging conversation can keep you awake when you have to finish your drive. If you’re driving alone, you can call someone on your hands-free device so you can talk and keep your brain engaged.
- Pull over and nap. If there’s a shoulder, rest stop, or spot far enough off the road, you can pull over and take a power nap.
- Stop at a nearby hotel for the night. If you don’t think a nap would be enough of a recharge, or you don’t feel comfortable sleeping in your car, you could find a nearby hotel. The price of a hotel for a night is worth it when you consider what could happen if you don’t stop to sleep.
After a car accident, you might not know where to turn. At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC in Charleston, WV, we understand that you’re trying to focus on your physical and emotional recovery. We’ll cover the legal side of things so that you have one less thing to worry about. Contact us today so that we can start working on getting you compensation for your injuries and damages.