As our Charlotte injury attorneys noted in a prior post to our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, about 168 million drivers, or roughly 60 percent of the registered driving population, admit to driving while drowsy each year. Driver fatigue, which often goes unreported and is virtually impossible to detect or measure, is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $12.5 billion annually.
We encourage you to speak to friends and family about the dangers this week during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 8-14.
The National Sleep Foundation says that sleep is as vital to well being and health as food and water, yet 75 percent of surveyed Americans admit to experiencing some form of untreated sleeping problem. It is estimated that 70 million Americans suffer sleep-related issues and about 45 million consider it a chronic condition.
According to NSF, another nearly 30 million people suffer from intermittent sleep issues caused by stress, anxiety or depression.
Despite these facts, most sleep problems go undiagnosed and untreated. But a good night’s rest isn’t just critical for good health. Persistent exhaustion contributes to declines in work productivity, poor academic performance, and machinery-related and motor vehicle accidents.
In fact, a recent study by the AAA Foundation revealed more than 40 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel and more than 25 percent admit to driving despite struggling to stay awake. The poll also found that one in six fatal car accidents and one in eight car accidents where occupants are injured involve a drowsy driver.
The AAA Foundation offers the following handful of tips to help drivers remain alert on the road and detect signs of drowsiness:
~ Prior to a long road trip, be sure to get at least six hours of sleep before departure. Schedule stop-stretch-and-rest breaks every two hours or 100 miles. Try to not deviate from your normal sleep habits when planning a trip – in other words, drive when you are normally awake.
~ Practice the buddy system. If you can, bring a friend who can help you stay alert and awake and will notice if you are showing signs of fatigue.
~ Once you become tired – STOP DRIVING. Find a safe place to pull over, drink a caffeinated beverage, and catch a 20-30 minute cat nap while you wait for the effects of the caffeine to hit your system.
~ Symptoms of sleepiness include: drifting from lane to lane, yawning, shaking your head, daydreaming, not knowing where you are or how far you have traveled, feeling restless and twitchy, and having trouble keeping your eyes open.
The North Carolina car accident lawyers with Lee & Smith know that being involved in a serious or fatal car accident, or losing a loved one to a fatal car crash, can be among the most trying times in your life. We hope that if you are involved in a serious car accident you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights. Our service areas span Asheville to Concord to Hendersonville to Winston-Salem and all point in between.