Sleep deprivation and driving do not mix

Many people in Texas and across the United States suffer from sleep deprivation at least some of the time. Busy lifestyles, hectic school schedules, sleep disorders and other factors may contribute to people not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. In addition to the health problems that this may cause, insufficient sleep can also contribute to danger on the roads.

About 5,000 people were killed and many more were injured in accidents attributed to drowsy driving in 2015, reports the Governors Highway Safety Association. Road trips on long, dull highways are common scenarios for drowsy driving crashes to occur. However, it is possible for a sleepy driver to nod off anywhere or any time, including while waiting at a red light or driving to work. With an estimated 34.8 percent of people across the country regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep each night, there is a possibility of encountering a drowsy driver every time one is in traffic.

Results of numerous drowsy driving studies

A report that was released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2015 revealed some disturbing statistics about drowsy driving. Out of many drivers surveyed, 43.2 percent admitted to have fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once. During the 30 days prior to the survey, 31.5 percent claimed they had a difficult time keeping their eyes open, and 3.5 percent said this happened to them often.

Additionally, Australian researchers discovered that driving after being awake for 18 hours was as dangerous as driving with a .05 percent blood alcohol content. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the intoxication effects increased to .10 percent for those who were awake 24 hours.

Reducing the chances of a drowsy driving accident

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that those who are most likely to be involved in a sleep-related accident include people who work late shifts, commercial drivers, those who take sedating drugs, people with untreated sleep disorders and those who regularly do not get enough sleep. The following tips may help prevent car crashes caused by drowsy driving, particularly when taking long trips:

  • Be sure to get enough sleep the night before.
  • Do not drive after taking medications that cause sleepiness.
  • Bring someone who can switch places driving or help keep the driver awake.
  • Stop every two hours or 100 miles to take a break.

It may also help take the edge off of drowsiness by having a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage, but this should not be seen as a substitute for proper sleep. If drowsiness becomes an issue during a trip, it may be much safer and more effective to pull over in a safe place and take a nap.

Preventive measures may make a difference for one's own driving, but cannot stop other drivers from causing accidents. Those who are injured by another's actions may wish to pursue compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney in San Antonio may be able to help.