Avoiding Drowsy Driving (It Can Be as Bad as Drunk Driving!)

We've discussed thousands of injury cases with clients and potential clients, and it's amazing how many accidents are the result of drowsy driving. Unfortunately, due to the long nature of many Southern Californian's commutes, many people leave work exhausted and have an hour or more of stop-and-go traffic ahead of them.  According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), a full 1/3 of all drivers have either nodded off at the wheel, or have fallen asleep while driving. As scary as that statistic may be, drowsy driving can certainly be avoided on your part, and there are several indicators that a driver near you is falling asleep at the wheel.

What To Look For

Similar to spotting drunk drivers, drowsy drivers are often driving above or below the normal speed of traffic. Commonly drowsy drivers drive slower than the traffic around them. Driving too slow can be a hazard to everyone on the road. Of course, many drowsy drivers nod off while driving slow and veer into another lane and cause a car crash.

Drowsy drivers are also known to forget things they wouldn't if they were well rested. For example, if you're driving at night and see someone with their blinker on for a prolonged period of time, take caution. Similarly, drowsy drivers may forget to turn their headlights on, or may not turn their lights on all the way. Drowsy drivers may also use their bright beam lights for extended periods of time in an effort to stay awake. Finally, drivers with their windows down or with extremely loud music may be trying to avoid falling asleep. Of course, not everyone who matches these descriptions is drowsy, but they are indicators that the driver behind the wheel may be fighting exhaustion. 

What To Do

Using an abundance of caution, you should avoid getting too close to the driver you suspect is falling asleep. Pass the car when it is safe to do so, but don't try to force the driver to pull over or take matters into your own hands. If you're a passenger in a car that sees someone who is most likely falling asleep, it is appropriate to call the police, similar to what you would do if you saw an obviously drunk driver.

How To Avoid Driving Drowsy

  • Get enough sleep! This may seem obvious, but when your body wants to sleep, there are very few things that will keep it awake. Eventually, the human body succumbs to exhaustion, even with caffeine and other stimulants in the system. Also, don't assume you can only become drowsy in the evening - many drowsy driving car accidents happen in the early morning hours and involve drowsy drivers who are heading to work early.
  • Don't rush it. If you plan ahead, you'll give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination, allowing for rest breaks if exhaustion arises.
  • Avoid driving at night. Drowsy drivers, inattentive drivers, and drunk drivers are all out at night!
  • Check your medications. Many medications cause drowsiness, so if you're taking something new, take the time to make sure you are aware of the possible side-effects. Err on the side of caution and do not drive if drowsiness is a possible side effect and you have not taken the medication before.
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage if you're trying to stave off exhaustion, but be aware that the stimulating effects of caffeine are no match for an exhausted mind or body. Caffeine should be a last-ditch effort, and you should never assume that because you're drinking caffeine, you won't fall asleep. Many accidents that have resulted in serious injury and death were caused by drowsy drivers who were drinking caffeine at the time they caused the accident.

What To Do If You're Injured By a Drowsy Driver

The Lions Injury Lawyers help individuals who are injured in car accidents, and we have helped many Californians recover from car accidents caused by drowsy drivers. Some of the car accidents that result in the worst injuries are caused by drowsy drivers, but insurance companies generally do not view drowsy driving on the same level of seriousness as drunk driving. The Lions Injury Lawyers fight to help people injured by drowsy drivers recover both physically and financially. Call (888) 248-1409 if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver. Contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today with any questions!