As a driver, you know there are many dangers on the road of which you must be aware. Countless drivers operate their vehicles negligently, and car crashes occur far too often. You must recognize what potential causes exist, why they’re so dangerous, and how to spot a negligent driver.
While many people look at drunk and distracted driving as the two biggest factors leading to car accidents, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. Whether a driver is falling asleep at the wheel or they have lost focus on the road because of fatigue, any drowsy driving puts you at significant risk of harm.
Below, we’ll detail some of the issues concerning drowsy driving and what you should look for as a driver.
Why is Drowsy Driving so Dangerous?
Many people get behind the wheel of their vehicle despite being tired. Whether the driver just got out of work after a long graveyard shift or he or she is taking certain medication to treat a cold, drowsy driving is never a safe option and can cause you and others unnecessary harm.
Drowsy driving significantly impairs a driver’s focus, cognitive and sensory abilities, and decision-making. Because of these impairments, it makes it difficult for drowsy drivers to react promptly when approaching traffic or when they’re falling asleep at the wheel.
Here are some of the biggest problems with drowsy driving:
- Falling asleep at the wheel: For any driver on the road, drowsy driving can cause someone to close their eyes behind the wheel. Even if this lasts for just a few seconds, it is enough time for the driver to drift into another lane or approach other vehicles at significant speeds.
- Daydreaming: Many drivers experience the problem of “highway hypnosis.” They travel a long distance and only remember some of it. Much of the time, this problem is a result of drowsiness and the driver daydreaming. Unfortunately, daydreaming can take a driver’s focus off the road, which is just as bad as looking at a cell phone.
- Late reaction times: Drowsiness can impact a driver’s decision-making abilities. As such, a drowsy driver may miss his or her exit or traffic sign. As a result, a driver may try to stop suddenly or drive erratically to correct his or her error. These actions put others on the road in danger.
If you’re on the road with a drowsy driver, you’re at risk of the driver drifting from lane to lane, tailgating you, or even swerving after he or she hits the rumble strip. Be sure to stay aware of your surroundings as a drowsy driver can cause a catastrophic crash, and you may sustain severe injuries as a result.
What Causes Drowsy Driving?
Many people are susceptible to drowsy driving. If you are in any of these positions, make sure you’re taking the steps to get enough sleep. However, you should also recognize the common causes of drowsy driving to help understand where negligence may exist.
- Late night shifts: Some occupations require people to work late night, overnight, and long shifts. If the worker does not get enough sleep, this long shift can exacerbate the impact of fatigue while driving. Even commercial truck drivers who must go long hours without a break.
- Certain medications: Cold medicine and other medication can cause drowsiness. Many of these drugs mention that people shouldn’t drive when taking them, but not everyone heeds this warning. Driving while on certain medications cannot only cause drowsy driving, it can impact a breathalyzer test should law enforcement become involved after a crash.
- Medical conditions: Narcolepsy and sleep apnea are two medical conditions that can impact a person’s ability to stay awake. Narcolepsy brings about sudden drowsiness at any time without much warning. Sleep apnea impacts how well someone sleeps, meaning they can suffer from drowsiness throughout the day.
Some people may try to use their medical condition as a defense, but many doctors will advise those with sleep disorders to not drive because of the impairment of drowsiness.
What Should I Look for on the Road?
If you are on the road, it’s imperative to stay vigilant to recognize potential dangers, including drowsy drivers. You should understand how someone may drive if they are drowsy, so you can avoid a potential accident.
Some of the signs of a drowsy driver include:
- Speeding up and slowing down
- Hitting the rumble strip often
Many drivers display some of the same signs as distracted or drunk driving when they are drowsy. Regardless of the underlying factor, these actions put all others on the road—including you—in harm’s way. You deserve to hold the drowsy driver accountable when he or she causes you harm.
At Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC, we work hard to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you need. Trust that we’re ready to go the extra mile on your behalf to get you the results necessary to move forward after a negligence-related crash.
Our Memphis car accident lawyers have helped countless individuals pursue justice, and we’re ready to help you, too. We’ll focus on your best interests every step of the way because you deserve dedicated legal counsel with you and your needs top of mind. You need help covering medical costs, lost income, property damage, and more—we’ll be your trusted partner through the process.
Call our firm at (901) 526-2126 today and speak with a legal professional about your rights and options. We’re ready to fight to get you the money you deserve.