According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue causes an estimated 100,000 car accidents every year. These driver fatigue accidents result in more than 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12 billion in damages and losses. Unfortunately, despite these sobering statistics, American drivers continue to drive drowsy.
Putting a Stop to Driver Fatigue Accidents
In a poll administered by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers admit to driving while fatigued within the last year. Thirty-seven percent say they’ve even fallen asleep behind the wheel. These sleepy drivers pose a dangerous threat to themselves and other drivers on the road.
However, drowsy driving can be prevented – and you can help. Put a stop to tired driving and prevent yourself and your passengers from falling victim to dangerous driver fatigue accidents by following these simple tips.
- Always get plenty of sleep, especially before taking a long road trip. Ideally, you want to get at least six hours of sleep before driving long distances.
- Only travel during hours you’re normally awake and alert. Avoid driving overnight, or very late or early when you’re usually asleep. This can cause you to drift off and be less alert than you should be.
- Be sure to schedule a break every two hours or so. Trying to drive longer than that can leave you unfocused, inattentive, and tired.
- Take a friend along for the ride. Having a passenger can help you stay awake and alert, plus you can rotate driving shifts with them, so neither of you gets tired or weary.
- Avoid driving in the dark. The low visibility combined with the glare of headlights can put you into a sort of hypnosis, making you tired and unable to operate your vehicle properly.
- Keep stimulation levels high. Never let your mind drift off while driving. Always keep yourself stimulated, alert, and involved. Roll down the window to let the wind blow your hair, turn up the radio and sing along, or turn up the A/C to make yourself cold and alert. All of these can help keep you in tip-top shape while driving.
- Don’t drive under the influence. This includes alcohol, drugs, and prescriptions. Many prescription painkillers and other medicines have a tiring effect, making you drowsy and inattentive. Avoid taking these before getting behind the wheel.
- Start your trips bright and early. You’re most alert in the early hours of the morning. Avoid starting your trip late in the day when you’re starting to get tired or fatigued.
- Focus on good posture. Slumping and slouching may be more comfortable, but it’s also more conducive to relaxing and sleeping. Put your seat upright and ensure your legs and back are assuming proper posture. This keeps your muscles alert and focused, and ensures you don’t get fatigued too easily.
- Wear sunglasses. If you don’t wear sunglasses, you’ll be forced to squint all day long due to the sun and bright lights. This can make your eyes tired and dry, and cause you to want to close them. Sunglasses can help shield the sun’s bright rays and keep your eyes alert and focused all day long.
With these tips, you can stay focused and alert while operating your vehicle and avoid dangerous fatigue accidents on the road.
Recognizing Symptoms of Drowsy Driving
In addition to following our safety tips, you can also help put a stop to fatigue accidents by being able to realize when you’re tired or drowsy while behind the wheel. If you have any of these symptoms, you may need to pull over and catch some Zs before continuing on your journey:
- Excessive yawning
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- An inability to remember directions to where you’re going
- Restlessness or boredom
- Excessive blinking, dry eyes, or tired eyes
Even when you follow our safety tips and pull over at the first sign of fatigue, you still could fall victim to dangerous driver fatigue accidents on the road. When you do, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Pat Maloney today to discuss your legal options.