Many people would admit to functioning on six hours or less of sleep at some points in their lives. These people would think nothing of going to work, taking care of their children, or driving their vehicles. However, a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) study found that getting behind the wheel with even just one or two fewer hours of sleep than the recommended eight hours can significantly increase a driver’s likelihood of causing an accident.
How Dangerous Is It Really to Drive When Drowsy?
The AAA study found that the danger of causing a serious crash increases progressively with less sleep and that missing two to three hours of sleep could be as dangerous as drunk driving. The risk of causing a crash when you get too little sleep increases as follows:
- With 6-7 hours of sleep, your crash risk increases by 1.3 times.
- With 5-6 hours of sleep, your crash risk increases by 1.9 times.
- With 4-5 hours of sleep, your crash risk increases by 4.3 times.
- With 3-4 hours of sleep, your crash risk increases by 11.5 times.
While you should certainly not drive if you exhibit any of the signs of drowsy driving, this does not guarantee that you will not make a fatal mistake. According to the AAA study, more than half of fatigue-related accidents involve drivers who had no symptoms before they actually fell asleep behind the wheel.
Tips for Staying Alert on Your Next Long Trip
The bottom line is that you should never drive when you did not get the recommended hours of sleep. Signs of drowsy driving that you should always be alert to include:
- Having difficulty keeping your eyes open
- Drifting out of your lane
- Not remembering the last few miles of your driving
If you are going on a long trip, it can be easy to become drowsy when driving. You should follow these tips to stay alert and awake:
- Drive at times when you are normally awake.
- Take a break every two hours or after you have travelled 100 miles.
- Avoid eating heavy foods.
- Travel with a passenger and take turns driving.
- Avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness or impair your driving.
Even if you are vigilant about not driving when drowsy, the drivers around you may continue this unsafe driving practice. If a drowsy driver caused your accident, the experienced legal team at Jones Wilson Lawyers are here to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us to schedule a free consultation.