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Drowsy driving is more dangerous than you think

By John Singleton on November 5, 2018

Why GibsonSingleton hopes you’ll observe Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Sixty percent of Americans have driven while sleepy in the past year, while 37 percent admitted having fallen asleep behind the wheel, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll.

We hear a lot about the dangers of drunk driving, drugged driving, speeding, and distracted driving, but not much about fatigued driving. The truth is that drowsy driving can be every bit as dangerous.

Drowsy driving was responsible for at least 90,000 motor vehicle accidents, resulting in 33,000 injuries and 736 deaths in the United States in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA estimates that these numbers may actually be higher, because unlike drugged or drunk driving, drowsy driving as the cause of an accident can be difficult to determine.

So what should you watch out for on the road? We’ll tell you.

What are the symptoms of drowsy driving?

Drowsy driving typically creeps up on drivers, who may not realize their skills are becoming impaired until their eyes actually start to close. The following are indicators that a driver should pull over and take a rest, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

So if you…

  • Have difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Find yourself daydreaming, with wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • Have trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • Miss exits or traffic signs
  • Keep yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Have trouble keeping your head up
  • Drift from your lane, tailgate, or hit a shoulder rumble strip
  • Are feeling overly restless and irritable

Please pull over at the nearest rest spot!

Infographic courtesy of the National Sleep Foundation!

Which drivers are prone to drowsy driving?

Drivers who are most susceptible to drowsy driving include:

  • People who regularly don’t get enough sleep
  • Shift workers who work night shifts or extra-long shifts
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles (such as tow trucks, tractor-trailers, buses, and taxis)
  • People with untreated sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, etc.),
  • People using medications that make them drowsy (antihistamines, muscle relaxants, pain killers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, blood pressure medications, gut medications used to control nausea and diarrhea).

If any of these sound familiar, use extra precaution. You’re more at risk for driving drowsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tips to prevent drowsy driving

We offer you the following tips to avoid drowsy driving altogether (from the NHTSA):

  • Get adequate sleep regularly. Many people only get a full night’s sleep on weekends, which creates a sleep deficit during the week.
  • Do not drink alcohol before driving. Even a small amount of alcohol increases the likelihood of becoming drowsy.
  • Check the labels on any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. If the label says a side effect is drowsiness, don’t take it before driving, or have someone else do the driving.
  • Avoid driving during peak sleeping hours (midnight – 6 a.m. and late afternoon).
  • If you’re driving with one or more passengers, engage them in conversation to keep your mind active —but also stay focused on the road.

Did you know drowsy driving may soon get you ticketed?

Scientists are working on a blood test that can determine how much sleep a person has had (in a study at the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey in England). This technology could eventually allow police officers to determine whether a driver is sleep-deprived while behind the wheel. Perhaps then we’ll all take drowsy driving more seriously!

But until then, our team at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys asks all drivers to join us in observing the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, November 4-11. Remember to get at least seven hours every night!

Unfortunately, we know that you can do everything right and still get into an accident on the Middle Peninsula. When that happens, our Virginia car accident lawyers are here to help you. For a free consultation, give us a call at (804) 413-6777. We hope and pray our neighbors in Eastern Virginia never have to use our services, but if you do, there’s no better friend to you, or worse enemy to uncooperative insurance companies.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.