According to a recently released report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsiness is a factor in about 9.5 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. When serious property damage is involved, that figure rises to 10.8 percent. This is a significant increase from government statistics that previously estimated drowsy driving to be a factor in only 1 to 2 percent of crashes.
To conduct the study, researchers viewed footage from in-car cameras, showing drivers’ faces, actions and behaviors at approximately three minutes before the crash occurred. The federally-funded study reviewed more than 700 motor vehicle crashes. With 3,593 volunteers, it was the largest study of its kind.
The study cited CDC figures showing that about 35 percent of drivers in the U.S. get less than the recommended seven hours of daily sleep. The CDC also suggested that government statistics were underestimated, and that annual drowsy driving-related accidents may be as high as 6,000.
The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep
William Van Tassel, a driver training manager for AAA, wants the public to know that sleep is the only real solution to the drowsy driving problem.
“Short term tactics like drinking coffee, singing, rolling down the window will not work. Your body’s need for sleep will eventually override your brain’s attempts to stay awake,” said Van Tassel. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of drowsy driving, or falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Drink lots of water. This may mean more bathroom stops, but frequent stops are also helpful at keeping you awake and alert.
- Avoid heavy foods before or during your drive.
- Whenever possible, travel with a passenger. In addition to providing conversation and engagement, the other person can drive if you become too tired.
- Be aware of the side effects of any prescription or over-the-counter meds you may be taking. If they cause drowsiness, you may have to temporarily stop the medication, only drive when the drowsy effects are least likely to occur, take an alert passenger along to share driving time, or stop for power naps whenever you feel sleepy.
- When all else fails, pull over in a safe location and sleep.
Is Technology the Answer?
With technological advancements taking over the world – cars included – is technology the answer? Multiple new model cars now have a driver alertness monitor. This monitor sets off an alarm if it detects that the driver is sleepy. The feature is not intended to keep you awake, just to alert you that your level of fatigue is becoming dangerous. Some vehicles, including certain Mercedes-Benz models, will actually bring the car to a complete stop and turn on the hazards if the driver becomes unresponsive. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a car accident. Continue reading