It’s well past midnight. You’re struggling to keep your eyes open and realize that it’s probably time to drive home. But as you get behind the wheel, you find yourself nodding off. Are you safe to drive home in this situation? To find out, we need to examine the dangers of driver fatigue.
Physical Impacts of Drowsiness
Many believe they can power through their tiredness or that a cup of coffee or an energy drink will help them stay awake. This is a harmful mindset because it ignores the real impacts of driver fatigue.
Your body needs rest. Staying awake for extended periods of time significantly decreases your reaction times, coordination, and judgment. According to the CDC, being awake for 18 hours has an effect similar to having a 0.05% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). They also suggest that staying awake for more than 24 hours is the equivalent of a 0.10% BAC.
Sleep is the best cure for driver fatigue. The CDC advises that that turning up the radio, talking to someone, and drinking coffee are not effective ways of staying awake at the wheel. Ideally, if you’re feeling tired, you should take a 15-20 minute nap before getting back on the road.
Young Adults at a Greater Risk
Drowsy driving causes upwards of 90,000 crashes and claims roughly 800 lives each year. According to a recent study by AAA, young adults (ages 16-24) make up more than half of all drowsy driving accidents.
Young drivers should take care to make sure they’re sleeping at least seven hours per night. CDC studies consistently find that young drivers who sleep an average of six hours per night or less are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Driver fatigue is preventable, but only when everyone understands how drowsiness affects driving ability and accepts the simple fact that there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash, we are here to listen. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Michigan auto injury attorney from Fieger Law, don’t hesitate to call (800) 294-6637 or send us an email.