5 Signs You’re Too Tired to Drive
Studies have shown that driving while tired is more dangerous than driving intoxicated. When you are tired, your reflexes are down, and you cannot respond as quickly as necessary to prevent a Florida car accident. When this happens, being behind the wheel is unsafe.
But knowing if you are too tired to drive is not always as clear-cut and straightforward as it may seem.
Here are five ways to know if you are too tired to drive and may put others around you at risk of a car crash.
- You find yourself zoning out – If you suddenly realize that you cannot remember the scenery or road signs you just passed, you are not paying close enough attention to the road and other cars around you to drive defensively.
- You get irritated quickly with other drivers – Irritation is a common sign of fatigue. If you have a short fuse with the drivers around you, you may not be well suited to be behind the wheel.
- You are frequently yawning – Your body yawns as you become more tired. The more you yawn, the bigger a sign that you may be too tired to drive.
- You are swerving slightly in your lane – Slight swerving is a dangerous sign that you cannot see straight enough, likely due to tired eyes. Even if you are swerving within your lane, you are still sending confusing signals to other drivers and at risk of swerving into other lanes without realizing it, quickly leading to a Florida car crash.
- You find your eyes shutting for a few seconds (or more) – Your eyes are heavy, and when you have kept them closed for more than the average time of a quick blink, you are too tired to drive and should pull over.
Drowsy Driving Leads to Accidents
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that the most in-depth drowsy driving research ever conducted in the United States – relying on footage of everyday drivers – discovered that crashes involving drowsiness were almost eight times higher than federal estimates. The study researchers found that 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes causing significant property damage involved driver drowsiness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that 35 percent of American drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily. Another AAA Foundation survey found that 29 percent of drivers admitted to driving when they were so tired they had difficulty keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.
The CDC also reports that drowsy driving was responsible for an annual average of 83,000 crashes, causing 37,000 injuries and 886 fatal crashes. The CDC stated that such estimates were conservative, and as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year might result from drowsy drivers.
The CDC also said approximately one out of 25 adults aged 18 years and older reported falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. People who snored or slept six hours or less per day were likelier to fall asleep while driving.
NHTSA reports 633 people died in drowsy driving-related crashes in one recent year. Drowsy-driving crashes happen most frequently between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon because, at both times of the day, people experience dips in their circadian rhythm or the human body’s internal clock regulating sleep. Many crashes involve only a single driver (who might have passengers) running off a road at a high rate of speed with no evidence of braking, and crashes most often happen on rural roads and highways. Multi-vehicle accidents can also result from drowsy driving.
Don’t be a Drowsy Driver
Below are some tips to combat drowsy driving.
Remember that even if you do everything right and never drive drowsy, others will, and they can cause crashes and injuries that affect your life in costly ways.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Adults generally require at least seven hours of sleep a day, and adolescents need at least eight hours.
- Try to develop good sleeping habits by sticking to a defined sleep schedule.
- Talk to your physician about treatment options when you have sleep disorder symptoms such as snoring or feeling sleepy during the day.
- Try not to drink alcohol or take any medications that can make you sleepy. Also, check the labels on medications or talk to your pharmacist about possible side effects such as drowsiness. When taking medications that can cause drowsiness, try using public transportation instead.
- Before the start of any long car trip, make sure to get a whole night’s sleep. Avoid starting long car trips late in the day. If you can start your journey about an hour after waking up, your mind will be most alert.
- Teenagers frequently do not get enough sleep at a stage in life when their biological need for sleep increases. Advise teens to delay driving until they know they are well-rested.
- When you drive, try to avoid driving during peak sleepiness times, such as midnight to 6 a.m. and late afternoon. When driving during these peak sleepiness periods, you want to stay vigilant for any signs of drowsiness, especially if you are driving alone.
- Maintain good body posture by sitting upright and with your driver’s seat moved forward enough to prevent the full extension of your legs. Also, keep your head up and your eyes straight ahead. Any other posture can tire you out.
- Keep your car’s environment stimulating by reducing its temperature to make it cold if necessary. Also, consider turning the volume up on your stereo, changing radio stations frequently, and trying to stay away from soft, slow music. You should also avoid relying on cruise control because you will stay actively involved in driving as much as possible.
- Take frequent breaks. You need breaks on any long-distance drives. Try to stop for a roughly 20-minute break every three hours. You can use your breaks to stretch your legs and move around a bit, which can help keep you alert until you take another break.
- Avoid heavy meals before hitting the road because they can make you sleepy. Even when you are hungry, eat something light. Make frequent stops to eat multiple light meals rather than eating heavy ones.
- Stop at a rest area when fatigue kicks in. Rest areas will allow you to take a short nap before continuing with the rest of your trip.
Many drivers believe they are safe and taking proper steps to stay awake, but they are drowsier than they realize. The most important thing is to constantly take stock of your mental state and pull off the road if you have any doubts regarding alertness. When other drivers fail to do so, they can cause you serious injuries.
Drowsy Driving Truck Crashes
Accidents due to commercial truck drivers often involve fatigue. Truck drivers maintain logbooks of their rest periods. If they exceed proper driving times without resting, it can be easier for an attorney to argue that a truck driver was operating without sufficient sleep. Property-carrying commercial truck drivers can drive up to 11 hours following ten consecutive hours off duty within any 14 hours.
The limit is 10 hours of driving for passenger-carrying truck drivers following eight consecutive hours off duty. Proving a passenger vehicle driver suffered from fatigue presents greater difficulties.
In some cases, a negligent driver may admit at the crash scene that they were feeling sleepy, which can later be evidence of their fatigue. Make sure to always note any such admissions by a negligent driver.
In other cases, circumstantial evidence can indicate a driver was fatigued. For example, zig-zagging tire marks at the crash scene or other evidence of dangerous lane changes may indicate possible fatigue issues.
Additionally, there might be surveillance footage of accident scenes that further demonstrates fatigue possibly being a factor. It is also possible that an attorney can uncover evidence that a negligent driver has a medical history of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders that may have been at play.
Hire an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
You may have a complicated case if you have been in a car accident due to a fatigued driver. Contact a skilled auto accident attorney for a case evaluation and to begin strategizing your claim. The right lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies to come to a fair and just settlement for your injuries and losses.