Car accidents can be caused by many reasons, including drivers falling asleep while driving. Just ask Darel Harris–a dump truck driver who was rear-ended this morning after another driver fell asleep at the wheel causing him to crash into the rear-end of the truck. As a result, northbound traffic slowed to a crawl on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The sleepy driver was charged with careless driving and taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.
Automobile accidents caused by drowsy drivers are not uncommon. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 37% of the driving population says they have nodded off for at least a moment or fallen asleep while driving at some time in their life. Male drivers are almost twice as likely to report having nodded off while driving than are female drivers. Newer drivers are only half as likely to have experienced nodding off while driving as more experienced drivers.
Although car accident caused by drowsy driving can happen anytime during the day, just 28% of drivers reporting a recent drowsy driving experience report this experience occurring between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. According to the NHTSA, more than one-third of drivers who nodded off while driving did so between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. An additional 17% report they nodded off between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Does extended driving cause drivers to fall asleep more often? Not exactly, according to the report, nearly half of the drivers who fell asleep while driving were driving for an hour or less.
The National Sleep Foundation provides the following tips to avoid causing a car accident because of drowsiness.
- Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road. You’ll want to be alert for the drive, so be sure to get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours) the night before you go.
- Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks. It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
- Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone for long distances. A buddy who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
- Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.
- Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.
- Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.
- Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
- Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
Drive safely and watch out for those who don’t. For answers to legal questions after a Florida car accident, motorcycle accident or other personal injury matter, contact Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes for a free case consultation.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in Tampa Bay car accidents, motorcycle crashes and other types of injuries. His Clearwater personal injury law firm – Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes – has been caring for clients since 1955. As one of Tampa Bay’s oldest personal injury law firms, we can see you through the battle with insurance companies. Call Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes today at 727-724-7883 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.