In an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to save lives, the National Sleep Foundation is declaring November 12-18, 2012 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®. Most of us realize how dangerous driving under the influence or texting while driving is, but driving while drowsy can be equally dangerous. Sleepiness can cause slower reaction times, blurred vision, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.
FedEx Truck Accident in West Virginia
In October, 2012 near Morgantown, WV a FedEx truck was traveling north in the southbound lanes shortly before 1 a.m. when the driver tried to make a U-turn to correct his direction. The FedEx driver caused a truck accident when he struck a tractor-trailer which then crossed the median into the northbound lanes and crashed through a guardrail on the east edge of the road. A passenger car traveling ahead of the tractor-trailer ran off the west edge of I-79 south, coming to rest against a guardrail. Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured. Three people were taken to the hospital, treated, and released. The FedEx driver was from North Dakota and the semi-truck driver was from Arizona.
At least two of these drivers illustrate the types of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness. Before we launch into the fall and winter holidays, we need to consider the potential impact of driving while exhausted could have on our own safety, our families, and other drivers sharing the road with us.
Specific At-Risk Groups for Drowsy Driving
- Young people-especially males under age 26
- Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
- Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
- People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
- Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged
Fast Facts about Driving while Fatigued:
- 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers
- 55% of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old
- Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
- In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that shows that fatigue is a factor in one in six deadly crashes; one in eight crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 76,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents every year.
Tips for avoiding becoming a drowsy driver statistic:
- Get a good night’s sleep (seven to nine hours) before you begin your trip.
- Plan breaks into your driving schedule; don’t be so rushed to arrive at your destination that you can’t stop for rest.
- Stop every 100 miles or two hours for a walk, run, snack, or drink.
- Bring a buddy who can share the driving.
- If you think you could fall asleep, pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap.
- Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
- Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.
- Caffeine can increase alertness for several hours, but you will still need adequate rest if you want to prevent fatigue related errors.
Warning Signs that it is time to pull over:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
- Trouble keeping your head up.
- Drifting onto rumble strips, swerving in your lane.
- Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven.
- Missed exits or traffic signs.
- Repeated yawning.
- Feeling restless or irritable.
Robinette Legal Group, PLLC in Morgantown, WV. You may not have been able to avoid the collision that caused your injuries, but you can avoid the unnecessary pitfalls of dealing with the insurance adjusters who are motivated and trained to devalue your claim, if not destroy it altogether.
Call our office today for free books for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide.