Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after you’ve had too much to drink. The National Sleep Foundation tells us a driver who has been awake for 18 hours has the same driving impairment as someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. That means just as bad a a person legally drunk in Idaho.
And 24 hours without sleep is the equivalent of having a BAC of 0.10%. Although 0.08% is the threshold for a DUI charge for drivers over age 21, the data shows us driving skills begin to deteriorate once a person’s BAC is above 0.05%.
Risk Factors For Drowsy Driving
Anyone can experience drowsy driving, but certain groups of people are most at risk due to lifestyle factors. People like commercial drivers, shift workers, and business travelers tend to have irregular sleep patterns. And certainly, people who are on sedating medications or who suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders have an increased likelihood of problems. We know that most normal healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day. The people with these risk factors, and more so if they have multiple risk factors, are significantly less likely to get the sleep they need on a regular basis.
One common misconception is that people can easily tell if they’re too tired to drive. A recent study found that 50% of drivers involved in accidents after they fell asleep at the wheel reported they felt not at all drowsy or only slightly drowsy before the accident. Subtle but in some ways obvious warning signs that you need to rest include:
- Frequent blinking
- Difficulty keeping your head up
- Feeling irritable or restless
- Trouble remembering the last few miles you’ve driven
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to keep yourself from falling asleep at the wheel if your body is in desperate need of rest. Sleep is a natural response to exhaustion and can’t be prevented by opening the window or cranking up the radio.
If you’re too tired to continue driving, pull over at a rest stop or parking lot to take a break. Even a 15-20 minute nap followed by a cup of coffee can make you alert enough to arrive at your destination safely.
Holzer Edwards Can Help
Avoiding drowsy driving can help reduce your risk of being involved in an auto accident, but you can’t account for the behavior of others. If you or someone you love is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation to pay for medical care and other accident-related expenses. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Holzer Edwards are dedicated to representing Idaho residents who have been injured due to the negligent actions of others.