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Driving While Sleepy

April 15, 2024

We all can agree that drowsy driving kills. But did you know that accidents caused by driving while sleepy are preventable?

There’s no telling exactly when sleep will come over a person. Falling asleep at the wheel is obviously dangerous, but being sleepy also affects your ability to drive safely, even if you don’t fall asleep. Drowsiness makes you less able to pay attention to the road and slows your reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly. Moreover, drowsiness affects your ability to make good decisions.

A survey from the CDC says that about one in 25 adult drivers (18 years or older) reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous month. That same survey found that adult drivers who snore or usually sleep six or fewer hours per day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving than drivers who don’t snore or usually sleep seven or more hours per day, respectively.

Drowsy driving was found to be a factor in thousands of crashes, resulting in countless injuries and hundreds and hundreds of deaths. Statistics show that more than 6,000 fatal crashes each year may involve a drowsy driver. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation says that about 8,000 of all truck accidents each year are because of a fatigued truck driver.

Who’s At Greater Risk of Drowsy Driving and Related Crashes and Deaths?

  • Younger drivers;
  • Drivers on the road between midnight and 6 am or in the later afternoon;
  • Drivers who don’t get enough sleep;
  • Those who work the night shift or long shifts;
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea (when a person’s repeatedly stops and starts during sleep); and
  • Drivers who use medications that make them sleepy.

Are Commercial Truck Drivers at a Greater Risk?

Yes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Truck driver fatigue is a major safety concern and has been a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for years.

Moreover, research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that 65% of truck drivers say that they frequently feel drowsy while driving and nearly 50% of truck drivers admit that they’d actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year!

What are the Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving?

  • Drifting out of your lane;
  • Difficulty recalling the past few miles you’ve driven;
  • Yawning or blinking frequently;
  • Missing your exit; and
  • Going over a rumble strip on the side of the road.

If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over to rest or let someone else do the driving.

How Can I Prevent Drowsy Driving Before Getting Behind the Wheel?

First of all – make sure you get enough sleep. Most of us require at least seven hours of sleep each night. Teens need at least 8 hours. In addition, you should maintain sound sleeping habits, such as sticking to a sleep schedule.

If you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or have symptoms of a sleep disorder like snoring or feeling sleepy during the day, speak with your doctor about treatment options.

Before you drive, avoid taking any medicine that will cause you to be drowsy. And don’t drink alcohol before you drive. It impairs the skills needed for driving and increases drowsiness.

Speak with an Experienced Michigan Personal Injury Attorney

With Michigan traffic crashes increasing, the odds are decent that you or a family member will be involved in an auto accident, and it may involve a sleepy driver. You need a dependable Grand Rapids motor vehicle accident attorney who understands Michigan personal injury law and has years of experience with commercial vehicle accidents. We can get you the compensation you deserve.

For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids and Detroit, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.