Getting enough sleep is an important part of living a happy, healthy life. Unfortunately, many adults in North Carolina are chronically sleep deprived. This makes doing everyday activities like driving exponentially more dangerous. Drowsy driving is a growing problem that does not appear to have a clear end in sight.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving contributed to approximately 91,000 crashes, 50,000 injuries and 800 fatalities in 2017. The NHTSA also reports that these figures are likely lower than they should be. Drowsy driving is an underreported phenomenon, and according to its data, this behavior likely contributes to an additional 6,000 fatal collisions a year.
What is drowsy driving?
Drowsy driving is the act of driving while tired or fatigued. In many cases, drowsy driving is the result of not getting enough sleep. However, you could also be a drowsy driver if you get behind the wheel with an untreated sleep disorder, while taking certain medications or after a particularly tiring shift at work.
Falling asleep at the wheel is a clearly dangerous behavior that puts you and everyone else on the road at risk. Accidentally falling asleep is not the only risk, though. When you are tired, you are less likely to:
- Pay adequate attention to the road
- React to emergencies in a timely manner
- Make good decisions
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the CDC — shows that around one out of every 25 drivers has fallen asleep over the last 30 days. Considering that the dangers of drowsy driving occur well before someone falls asleep, you could be encountering drivers that are too tired to drive on a fairly regular basis.
Who is driving drowsy?
Anyone of any age or background can drive drowsy. A few factors that increase your chance of being a drowsy driver include getting fewer than six hours of sleep or even snoring during sleep. Warning signs that you might be too tired to drive include:
- Frequently blinking or yawning
- Trouble recalling where you just drove
- Missing an exit
- Drifting out of your lane
There are few things more devastating than being injured through no fault of your own. A drowsy driving accident can send you to the hospital, make you miss work and burden you with steep medical bills. This is an understandably overwhelming situation, and you would be well within your rights to explore all of your options for compensation.