Approximately 3 million people are injured every year in car accidents on U.S. roads. While you might assume that the majority of these injuries can be attributed to drunk driving, speeding, or unfavorable weather conditions, there’s one cause that has the potential to impact even the most careful of motorists: drowsy driving. Drowsy driving has been found to be just as dangerous as drunk driving and needs to be taken just as seriously. Otherwise, you could easily become involved in a major auto accident and require help from a car accident lawyer. If you want to avoid sleep-related car accidents, here are a few tips you should always follow:
- Know the signs of drowsy driving Most of us can tell when we should head to bed when we’re at home, but it may actually be more difficult to ascertain when you’re too tired to drive. Some of the most common signs that you’re sleepier than what’s safe include having difficulty focusing; heavy eyelids or frequent blinking; daydreaming or disconnected thoughts; trouble remembering how far you’ve driven or what you’ve passed; missed exits or street signs; frequent yawning; difficulty keeping your head up; feelings of irritability or restlessness; and tailgating, lane drifting, or hitting the curb. If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or your travel companions, you’ll want to pull over right away.
- Get enough sleep It might sound easier said than done, but you need to get ample shuteye before heading out on the open road. Get a full night’s sleep before a long trip and take a short nap before heading out if you don’t feel adequately rested. If you feel like you need to sleep after you’ve already set out, pull over to a safe location and take a 20-minute nap. Be sure to give yourself 15 minutes or so after you wake up to drink some caffeine and have a snack to provide you with some energy for the trip ahead.
- Avoid certain travel hours In addition to getting enough sleep, you should make it a rule to avoid driving during certain hours to reduce your chances of needing a car accident lawyer. Drive during the hours during which you’re normally awake, rather than attempting to stay up past your regular bedtime to make it to your destination. Instead of attempting to drive through the night, stay somewhere overnight and finish your trip in the morning. At the very least, avoid driving during the hours of midnight and 6 AM.
- Don’t drive alone One of the best things you can do to avoid drowsy driving is to travel with a buddy. Bring along a partner on long trips or if you expect to be traveling at a late hour. Plan to take a break every two hours (or 100 miles) and switch driving duties. Even on shorter trips, your passenger can help ensure you stay awake and alert. If you start to feel sleepy before your shift is up and pulling over to rest is not an option, you can ask your buddy to take over while you take a power nap.
- When in doubt, pull over Any car accident lawyer would advise you to always pull over if you’re ever questioning your ability to drive safely. Choose a rest stop or a well-lit and safe parking lot to take a short break if need be. Never feel embarrassed to do this. It’s far better to arrive a little bit later than you’d expected than to never arrive at all. Your strict itinerary should not take precedence over anyone’s safety.
If you do find yourself involved in a car accident due to drowsy driving, distracted driving, or other unsafe behaviors, our law firm can help. For more information, contact our car accident lawyers today.