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The Dangers Of Drowsy Driving


We’ve all been there: just a few miles from our destination, the fatigue slips in as eyelids grow heavy and the thought of collapsing into bed is irresistible.  So close…maybe fresh air would help? Louder music on the radio? Another gulp of cold, stale coffee? Is it worth it to push through the fatigue for just a little longer?

Did You Know… 

If you’re one of the millions of drivers who has been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when fatigued, you should think about whether you’d feel safe if the driver on the road next to you was drowsy. Some startling facts about drowsy driving revealed by the National Safety Council include:

  • Over 100,000 collisions related to fatigue are reported every year, half of them involving serious injury, but many more are suspected;
  • One study revealed over 300,000 fatigue-related traffic incidents annually, one-third of which resulted in injury;
  • Between 6,000 and 7,000 fatalities occur annually as a result of driving while fatigued;
  • Roughly one in five fatal collisions are the result of drowsy driving;
  • The cost of medical care alone related to drowsy driving injuries and fatalities tops $100 billion annually;
  • 4 percent of adults admit to having actually fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past month;
  • Drowsiness impacts one’s attention, focus, and reaction times on the road;
  • After going about 20 hours without rest, a driver functions about as well as someone with a .08 percent blood-alcohol level;
  • The potential for a collision increases by three-fold for drowsy drivers.

Who is at Risk of Becoming Too Fatigued to Drive Safely? 

Anyone can become overtired and be a risk on the road.  The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems notes that those in particularly dangerous circumstances include:

  • Shift workers;
  • Truck drivers or those who travel long distances;
  • Individuals who take medications that cause drowsiness;
  • Anyone with a sleep disorder;
  • Anyone who has experienced sleep deprivation. 

When are you too Tired to Drive? 

Fatigue has a way of sneaking up on drivers, but the signs are quite clear:

  • Heavy eyelids, excessive yawning;
  • Bobbing head, difficulty staying focused;
  • Straying out of your lane;
  • Missing an exit;
  • Losing track of where you’ve been.

These are all big flashing danger signs.  You should pull over immediately to take a cat nap—20 minutes or more– before proceeding any further.  Otherwise you and anyone in your path is at risk of a serious accident.

The Aftermath 

While every driver has control of his or her own choices behind the wheel, there’s nothing we can do about the driver next to you on the highway.  If you have been the victim in a drowsy driving accident and are worried about medical bills, lost wages and more, the experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes can help.  Contact our office for a confidential consultation today.



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