Tips for Less Drowsy Driving – National Sleep Awareness Month

Categories: Distracted Driving

driver asleep at the wheel

Trusted Lawyers for Washington Victims of Drowsy Drivers

You were up late last night and figured it was Thursday, so you will make up for it Friday night when you sleep in. As you drive to work, those four hours of sleep start to kick in, and you find yourself having a hard time focusing on the traffic. Suddenly, you miss your exit. Now, you must take the long way, which makes you frazzled because you will be late for work.

Did you miss your exit because of the traffic, or the fact you might have been so drowsy you fell asleep for a few seconds at the wheel? Most likely if you were driving on four hours of sleep, you fell asleep. Regardless, you were drowsy driving.

March is National Sleep Awareness Month, which is an important cause. Why?

Because most Americans, including yourself, do not get the right amount of sleep each night. Episodes like missing your exit on the freeway are just one of the many things that can happen when you do not get sleep. Another one? You could cause a fatal accident.

Alarming Statistics about Drowsy Driving for Spokane Drivers to Consider

Shrugging off your lack of sleep does more harm than good, and you are not the only person on the road with too few hours of sleep. In fact, a 2005 Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that 60 percent of drivers (which comes to 168 million) have felt drowsy while driving over the past year. Worse, one-third admitted to falling asleep while driving. In that same poll, 11 million drivers revealed they were in an accident or close to a crash because of their drowsy driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 100,000 crashes are the result of fatigue each year. These caused 1,550 deaths and $12.5 billion in losses. However, these numbers are often underestimated, because NHTSA admits there is no way to prove someone is tired at the wheel – and no one is going to say outright they were asleep when they caused an accident.

Here are just some reasons the statistics are likely incorrect, and more accidents and injuries occur each year:

  • State reporting is inconsistent, and there is no way for an officer to identify someone’s sleepiness at the crash site.
  • You cannot rely on drivers to self-report fatigue.
  • Fatigue can play a role in accidents that were labeled as drunk driving.
  • Other countries with more consistent reporting have 10 to 30 percent of their incidents caused by drowsy drivers.

Are You a Drowsy Driving Risk?

Some groups are more at risk for drowsy driving. If you find yourself in this risk category, it might be time to look at your sleep habits and see if they could be affecting your driving.

  • Adults ages 18 to 29 are less likely to get enough sleep each night.
  • Men drive drowsy more than women.
  • Adults with children are more likely to be drowsy while driving than households without children.
  • Shift workers, especially those who work graveyard or longer than eight hours may be drowsier.

How Much Sleep Does the Human Body Need?

There are minimums recommended but realize that you might need more or less than the recommended depending on your body. Do not assume that because you can “function” you need fewer hours of sleep. The human body is remarkable and will keep moving even if you are tired, but that does not mean you are driving at your best or even cognitively.

Adults should have seven to nine hours of sleep each night. When you get older, you can decrease those to seven hours, but seven is the minimum. If you are not getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, then you are likely driving drowsy – and that lack of sleep is affecting your performance in life and work more than you might realize.

Six Hours Is Enough, Right?

You might think that six hours is all you need, but the University of California, San Francisco found that only a rare number of people have the gene that lets them get away with six hours of sleep. In fact, that gene is so rare that only three percent of the population has the gene, and that means 97 percent of the population needs more than six hours – regardless of what they think.

How Can You Get More Sleep Each Night?

These days you have everything keeping you awake, from a busy lifestyle to work to technology. To get more sleep, you need to become self-aware. Ask yourself how much sleep you feel better with, then start setting a bedtime and awake time – and use them every day. Even if you do not work that day, if you are always up at 5:00 am, get up at 5:00 am on your day off too. This is your body’s sleep-wake schedule and the more consistent you are, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep until 5:00 am comes around.

Also, start some “quiet” time at least one hour before bedtime. That might mean no TV, soft lights, reading a book, or even doing some yoga. If you are the type to toss and turn about your to-do list, then write down everything you are thinking before bed, known as a brain dump. This might help you from sitting up thinking about what you should do or what you need to remember the next morning.

Hold Drowsy Drivers Accountable

If a drowsy driver injured you, you have the right to seek compensation. Drowsy driving is a form of negligence; therefore, you can file an insurance claim or even a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for your injuries.

Proving drowsy driving is not easy, and while you are recovering from your injuries, the last thing you need is to worry about how you will show that the driver was asleep. Instead, you need an injury attorney from Brett McCandlis Brown, PLLC.

Speak with an attorney now by calling 206-693-4657 or request your free consultation online.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.