How to Protect Yourself from Fatigued Drivers and Drowsy Driving Accidents in West Virginia
Drowsy Driving: West Virginia Accidents Caused by Drivers Asleep at the Wheel
Although the mantra “drive alert and stay unhurt” may sound gimmicky, the truth is drowsy driving causes over 300,000 automobile crashes and up to 6,000 deaths each year in the U.S. Fortunately, learning more about the risks of drowsy driving and what steps you can take to protect yourself while driving will help keep you and your family safe on West Virginia highways.
The Drowsy Driving Problem
Drowsy driving is a major problem in not only West Virginia but throughout the United States. The risk, danger, and often tragic results of drowsy driving are startling. Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen due to untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, or shift work.
Falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous and sometimes deadly, but being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely even if you don’t fall asleep. According to recent studies and common sense, drowsiness has the following effects on drivers.
- Makes drivers less able to pay attention to the road.
- Slows reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly.
- Affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions.
Did You Know?
- Drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates. However, these numbers are grossly underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.
- An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
Who’s more likely to drive drowsy?
- Drivers who do not get enough sleep.
- Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses. Drowsy driving is involved in many work-related injuries and trucking accidents
- Shift workers (work the night shift or long shifts).
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as one where breathing repeatedly stops and starts (sleep apnea).
- Drivers who use sedatives or medications that make them sleepy.
Learn the warning signs of drowsy driving
Be on the lookout for the following signs of drowsiness to protect yourself from falling asleep at the wheel or a driving drowsy crash.
- Yawning or blinking frequently.
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven.
- Missing your exit.
- Drifting from your lane.
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.
If you experience any of these warnings signs, pull over to rest or change drivers. Turning up the radio or opening the window are not effective ways to keep you alert without first stopping to rest. For more warning signs visit American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Prevent drowsy driving before taking the wheel
To prevent driving while drowsy, here are a few tips from the CDC you should do before taking the wheel:
- Be on the lookout for becoming fatigued and drowsy, remembering that just a 15-minute rest break could save your and others’ lives.
- Get enough sleep! Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a day, while teens need at least 8 hours.
- Develop good sleeping habits such as sticking to a sleep schedule.
- If you have a sleep disorder or have symptoms of a sleep disorder such as snoring or feeling sleepy during the day, talk to your physician about treatment options.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you sleepy. Be sure to check the label on any medications or talk to your pharmacist.
- If you notice the warning signs of drowsy driving, pull over to a safe place and take a 15-20 minute nap or change drivers.
Get a Free Consultation with an Experienced West Virginia Drowsy Driving Crash Lawyer
We hope this information helps keep you and your family safe from fatigued drivers and drowsy driving accidents. However, if you or a loved one has been injured in a West Virginia crash or by negligence, we invite you to call one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today. For a Free, Confidential Consultation, call West Law Firm toll free number at 1-877-943-9378.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.