Much like distracted driving, drowsy driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving and causes thousands of car accident fatalities every year. Early this month, Arianna Huffington, creator of The Huffington Post, teamed up with Toyota and rideshare giant Uber to launch a petition against drowsy driving, where users can pledge to avoid driving while tired and share their stories with the petition hashtag #TakeABreakToStayAwake. As of Tuesday, April 5, the petition had over 2,700 supporters. You can read others’ stories and sign the pledge to avoid drowsy driving at Change.org.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
Huffington’s campaign research shows that drowsy driving causes 1.2 million car crashes per year, resulting in over 500,000 injuries and 8,000 deaths. Similarly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to seven percent of all crashes and 16.5 percent of fatal crashes are caused by drowsy driving. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Studies have shown that being awake for just 18 hours causes cognitive impairment at a level of a .05 blood alcohol level, and 24 hours of consciousness can raise impairment to a level equal to 0.1 percent blood alcohol – higher than many states’ legal alcohol limit of .08. Many people think of truck drivers when discussing drowsy driving, as they often drive for long shifts in the middle of the night, but drowsy driving can affect anyone from an office worker pulling a late night to a tired student coming home from the library. In fact, the NHTSA found that young male drivers, shift workers with night or irregular hours, and anyone who sleeps less than six hours per night are most likely to be involved in drowsy-driving related collisions.
What To Do if You Are Too Tired to Drive
The most important factor in preventing drowsy driving is ensuring that you get enough rest every day. However, there are situations where becoming overly tired may be unavoidable. In those situations, you still have options. Consider a taxi or rideshare company like Uber or Lyft. Even if it means you must leave your car and pay extra parking fees, protecting yourself from a car accident or injuring others in a collision will be well-worth the cost. Uber has also started Uber for Business, which offers cheaper rides home for workers who cannot avoid staying late at the office. As a part of the petition, Toyota will provide discounted late-night rides to and from campus for students, and Uber has started work on technologies using GPS data to detect dangerous driving patterns in order to keep roads safer.
If you are already behind the wheel and begin feeling the effects of drowsiness, find a safe place to pull off the road and either take a nap, or call a cab to take you the rest of the way. Keep in mind that drinking coffee or energy drinks might help you feel more alert at first, but its energizing effects are short-lived and can cause “micro sleeps,” or short lapses in consciousness, lasting for up to five seconds when you are sleep deprived. Do not use caffeine as a solution to overtiredness while driving.
Need More Help?
If you or a loved one has been injured in drowsy-driving accident in central Florida, John Piccin at Piccin & Glynn has the experience and resources to help you. John can make home or hospital visits for your free, no obligation case evaluation. Call John at 352-581-6174 or contact him online today.