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The Risks of Sleep-Deprived Driving

Drowsy driver

Most of us know that drunk or distracted driving can cause accidents. However, many of us drive while sleep-deprived which can similarly affect your reaction time and alertness on the road. Drowsy driving led to 795 deaths in 2017. Why does sleep deprivation make people so bad at driving?

Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Multiple studies have demonstrated the link between sleep deprivation and reaction times. One study found that tired subjects performed even worse than rested subjects with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.5%.

The effects aren’t just limited to driving, either. Sleep deprivation plays a huge role in medical errors due to the long hours that doctors work. This is partially due to the negative effect sleep deprivation has on memory.

How Common is Sleep Deprivation?

To make matters worse, sleep deprivation is more common than you might think. The CDC estimates that 1 in 3 American adults do not get enough sleep. The CDC also found that 1 in 25 drivers report falling asleep while driving in the last 30 days. With so many people living with undiagnosed sleep disorders or working long and unusual hours, it’s easy to see why drowsy driving is so common.

How Can You Prevent Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep can be frustrating for a lot of people. Your responsibilities can interfere with the sleep schedule you would want. Still, you can implement good habits into your life that can help you sleep better and avoid driving drowsy.

  • Try to avoid driving at periods of peak sleepiness (midnight to 6 am) if possible.

  • Always check prescriptions to see if drowsiness is a potential side effect.

  • If you are feeling sleepy while driving, pull over in a safe area and take a short 20-minute nap. This can increase your alertness for a short time allowing you to get complete the last few miles of your trip safely.

  • Caffeine isn’t a complete fix. You may feel more alert than you actually are after consuming caffeine.

  • Try your best to get an effective 7 to 8 hours of sleep, as often as you can.

A safe driver is a well-rested driver. Especially if you are planning on a long road trip, get the adequate sleep you need the night before.

If you or a loved one is ever involved in a car crash, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP can help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form.