At first, police may have thought a drunk driver caused your accident. Witnesses said the car that hit yours swerved across the line and that the driver seemed slumped over the wheel. The truth, however, may have surprised you. The driver had simply fallen asleep.
For many, sleep is a luxury. Maybe you feel this way, too. You may be up before the sun to take care of children before making your commute to work, and driving home exhausted after a long day. Because you have used many tricks to keep yourself away behind the wheel – sipping coffee, rolling down the car window, turning up the radio – you may never have considered that other drivers were also struggling with fatigue behind the wheel.
The cold facts about fatigued driving
You may feel that you are one of the lucky ones. About 35,000 people die annually in traffic accidents, and nearly 20 percent of those accidents involve a drowsy driver.
Sleep specialists urge people to get seven to nine hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. While it may not be possible to get all those hours at night, there are other ways to reach the goal:
- Getting as many hours of sleep at night as you can
- Compensating for hours missed at night by napping throughout the day
- Sleeping for 10 to 20 minutes every two or three hours if your drive is long
- Making sure to get a total of about eight hours in the 24-hour period before you drive
Sleep is a powerful instinct. It is so powerful that, even in situations when your very life is at stake – such as driving – you may not be able to resist it.
In fact, a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that drivers who sleep one to two hours less than the recommended amount are twice as likely to have an accident as those who sleep the full seven to eight hours. Drowsy drivers who sleep only four to five hours in a 24-hour period have four times the risk of crashing. That probability is almost equal to someone driving legally drunk.
Working through your recovery
Your injuries may have landed you in the hospital for a while. You may have needed surgery or physical therapy. If you lost time at work, on top of your pain, you may also have the stress of worrying about how to pay for your medical bills and daily expenses.
By contacting an attorney, you can discuss the details of your situation and determine if you have cause for a personal injury lawsuit. Even though drowsy driving is not a crime – like texting and driving or DUI – a court may still considered a drowsy driver to be negligent. In that case, you may be able to obtain some compensation for your pain and suffering.