Increased drowsy driving accidents endanger FL residents

This is the season for traveling. Many people in Florida and elsewhere will be taking advantage of the improved weather in late winter and early spring to visit relatives and friends from out of town. Whether going on long roads trips or short commutes to and from work, it is important to understand the dangers of drowsy driving.

About 5,000 people are killed and thousands more are injured every year in motor vehicle collisions caused by drowsy drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Unfortunately, many Americans are regularly sleep-deprived due to busy lifestyles, which may result in an increase of tired drivers on the road. Separate studies by State Farm Insurance and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have determined that many people regularly get behind the wheel when they may be too tired to safely do so. In surveys, 31.5 percent of people admitted that during the past 30 days, they had trouble keeping their eyes open while driving. In the same study, 43.2 percent said they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once, and 3.5 percent admitted they drove drowsy on a regular basis.

Anyone can drive drowsy

Drowsy driving has long been associated with commercial truck drivers, since they are often on the road for long hours, traveling great distances. However, driving fatigued is by no means limited to truckers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who work late or night shifts, those who use medications that cause drowsiness and people with untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders may also regularly get behind the wheel while sleepy. The same is true for younger drivers, who often do not get enough sleep while in high school or college.

The National Sleep Foundation points out that people who are seriously sleep-deprived may experience the same impairments as those who drink and drive. In Australian studies, it was discovered that those who had been awake for 18 hours had an impairment level equal to a .05 percent blood alcohol content. The impairment effects rose to being equal to .10 percent, higher than the legal limit in the U.S., for those who were awake for 24 hours.

WPTV News reports that drowsy driving is increasing in Florida. In 2014, 14 people died in drowsy driving accidents. The number has risen to 23 in 2015. People may reduce their chances of being killed or suffering traumatic injuries in fatigue-related crashes by making sure they get enough sleep before going on a trip, pulling over to rest if they have trouble keeping their eyes open and regularly stopping to stretch their legs. It may also help to have a driving buddy to switch turns or keep them awake.

Not every accident can be avoided, despite the best precautions. An experienced Florida personal injury attorney should be able to advice those who were injured in a crash on their best course of action.