It’s no secret that driving while drowsy is dangerous, but few people know just how risky it is to get behind the wheel when you really should be resting instead. Drowsy driving causes thousands of accidents every year, some of which lead to serious or fatal injuries.
Nighttime driving is a dangerous activity for those who are prone to drowsiness. If you or someone you love has been injured by a drowsy driver, we’re here to help you pursue full and fair compensation. Call Turner, Onderdonk, Kimbrough & Howell now to talk about your options. Call our Chatom office at 251-847-2237 or our Bay Minette office at 251-651-0483.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Driving when you’re tired might not seem so dangerous, however, a little bit of fatigue can significantly increase your chance of causing a crash. Driving while you’ve been awake for at least 18 hours is similar to driving with a BAC of about 0.05. If you’ve been awake for 24 hours, you’re about as impaired as a driver with a BAC of 0.10.
When you are drowsy, numerous parts of your brain start to shut down to preserve energy. Your ability to make decisions quickly gets weaker, as does your ability to make sound decisions. You may also react more slowly to changes in your environment, making it difficult to avoid unexpected obstacles on the road. You are at a higher risk of falling asleep and driving off the road.
Your Body is Programmed to Sleep at Night
You may be great at staying awake, but you can’t fight your biology. The human body is programmed to sleep at night, and it produces melatonin when your natural sleep cycle sets in. No matter how much caffeine you’ve had, it’s hard to fight the effects of melatonin. Even if you work at night or work a variety of shifts, your body’s melatonin production can still leave you feeling tired during a long nighttime drive.
Long Periods of Wakefulness Can Make You Drowsy
Even if you aren’t driving all night or you aren’t usually tired while driving at night, you may still get drowsy if you have been awake for too long before hitting the road. If you must drive at night, make sure you get a nap before you get behind the wheel. Your body can only run on fumes for so long, and once it’s powered through your initial energy reserves, it’s not long before you start feeling drowsy.
Causes of Drowsy Driving
Certain jobs and habits can put you at greater risk of driving while drowsy. The most common time for fatigued driving accidents is 12:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. Most crashes happen when a driver is alone and has no passengers.
This may be because a passenger can keep a driver distracted and help them stay awake. While some crashes happen on city roads, the majority occur on highways and rural roads like State Highway 17 and State Highway 56, where the speed limits tend to be higher.
Some people at greater risk of fatigued driving include:
- Those who work nights or those whose shifts rotate, leaving them without a regular sleep schedule
- Truck drivers and others who have to drive for long stretches of time with minimal breaks
- People on medications that cause drowsiness
- People with sleep disorders like narcolepsy
No matter how careful you are on the road, you can’t always protect yourself from an exhausted driver. If another driver falls asleep behind the wheel or is too drowsy to avoid a crash, you could end up with serious injuries and property damage. When this happens, it is crucial to talk to an attorney about your legal options. You may be able to file a claim against the liable driver and hold them accountable for their actions.
Contact Us If You’ve Been Hit by a Drowsy Driver
At Turner, Onderdonk, Kimbrough & Howell, we know that an accident can be devastating to you and your family. We strive to help victims seek the fair compensation they deserve. To talk more about your case and find out how we can help you, set up a meeting at one of our convenient locations. Call our Bay Minette office at 251-651-0483 or our Chatom office at 251-847-2237. You can also contact us online.