A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found nearly 5,000 people die in drowsy driving traffic accidents every year and anywhere from 10% to 20% of truck accidents involve a driver who is tired. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers are responsible for 17% of all fatal car accidents.
Driving while tired can affect vision, judgment, alertness, and reaction time. Here are some of the biggest myths of drowsy driving.
Fact: Numerous studies have found that driving while tired IS as bad as driving while intoxicated. According to one recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, there is no difference between driving drunk and sleepy as both doubled the risk of causing an accident. An earlier study from the Netherlands found that night driving for just two hours is similar to driving while buzzed while driving for three hours at night is akin to driving drunk.
Research has found that even a short, ten-minute nap can improve alertness and performance on cognitive tests. Longer naps can make you feel groggy when you wake up, but it’s important to take a break and get some rest when you feel tired on the road. Even if you can’t sleep, pulling over and reclining for 10-15 minutes can help.
While caffeine can make you feel more alert, sleep is the only way to overcome drowsiness. People who take stimulants like caffeine while they are severely sleep deprived are more likely to experience micro-sleep, or falling asleep for four or five seconds at a time. A truck or car traveling at 55 mph can cover over 100 yards in that amount of time, easily enough time for an accident.
In a recent test, about four-fifths of people said they would be able to predict when they were about to fall asleep. They were incorrect. Sleep is not a voluntary action; when you’re tired behind the wheel, you can fall asleep and not realize it. You also can’t tell how long you’ve been asleep. Even micro-sleep, or falling asleep for a few seconds behind the wheel, can be fatal.
While many people feel that driving while tired is no big deal, the truth is it’s a leading cause of fatal traffic accidents. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident, fatigue may have been to blame. Contact Edelstein, Martin & Nelson today for a free consultation with a Delaware truck accident attorney to protect your rights.