We often post about the dangers of distracted driving and drunk driving accidents on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, but let’s not forget for a moment that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous.
A high number of car accidents in Hickory, Statesville and elsewhere can be attributed to driver fatigue. Falling asleep, even if only for a second can lead to serious injury in the aftermath of a drowsy driving accident.
Gastonia car accident attorneys can relate knowing that most Americans don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night and some don’t get enough sleep to function properly, which puts them at high risk of nodding off in the car while they head home from work or run errands each day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed a recent study which indicated that almost 5 percent of drivers admitted to dozing off while driving in the previous 30 days. The age group that admitted most to this behavior was 25 to 34 (7.2 percent) and elderly drivers ages 65 and over were least likely to fall asleep behind the wheel with only a 2 percent positive response.
A 2005 study by the National Sleep Foundation produced more startling results. According to the NSF study, more than 30 percent of drivers had fallen asleep behind the wheel and approximately 60 percent admitted to driving while they felt drowsy in the past year. Roughly 11 million drivers have been in an accident or near accident due to driver fatigue.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 100,000 car accidents are related to driver fatigue each year. It is estimated that the cost of driver fatigue accidents is $12.5 million annually and roughly 1,550 lives are lost and another 71,000 people are injured in these types of accidents.
Much of the problem is attributed to the fact that there is no measure for drowsiness behind the wheel when an officer pulls you over. Unlike the breathalyzer test given to drunk drivers, there is no measure to test how fatigued a driver is behind the wheel. There is also inconsistency statewide for keeping track of drowsy driving-related accidents or violations by state law enforcement in which fatigue is a contributing factor. Sure, drivers can self-report but that isn’t a reliable system.
The NSF found the age group most at risk of driving drowsy to be 18-29 year-olds and predominantly male drivers. Shift workers and parents with small children in the home are also more at risk of a drowsy driving accident. Anything less than 8 hours of sleep a night can lead to a greater risk of drowsy driving accidents.
Researchers tend to compare drowsy driving to drunk or distracted driving because driver fatigue minimizes reaction time and alertness while operating a vehicle. Not only can eyes be taken off the road and a driver’s mind be taken away from driving, drivers tend to lose control of motor skills while they nod off.
The biggest mistake a driver can make is to try to fight through the drowsiness rather than just pull over and rest or take a break from driving. No amount of caffeine, cold air, or loud music can change the fact that a driver didn’t get enough sleep and is fatigued. If you feel drowsy when you drive, pull off to a rest area or stop to get a bite to eat so that you can walk and stretch and shake the feeling of fatigue during a long trip.
If you or some you know has been injured in a drowsy driving accident in North or South Carolina, contact the car accident attorneys at the Lee Law Offices, P.A for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965 today.
More Blog Entries:
North Carolina Crash Kills 3 Family Members, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, May 31, 2010.
Examining Behavioral Data Could Reduce Risk of Car Accidents in North Carolina, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, August 3, 2011.