Cause for Car Accidents: Deadly Snooze

by Andrew Mounier on June 17, 2013

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sleep drivingJohn and Penny, with their two children ages 6 months and 4 years old, started their “summer vacation” by packing up the car and heading west to family reunion right after John returned home from work.  The couple decided to leave right after work so their children would sleep in the car, hopefully through the night.  By driving straight through the night, John and Penny hoped to save money, time and the added hassle of keeping young passengers occupied.  Penny had initially agreed to start the drive so John could catch some sleep after his 11 hour shift, but she complained of a headache from the warm and humid weather.  John, despite his need for some shut eye, agreed to drive while Penny tried to sleep away her headache.  As the thick, warm night air came through the passenger windows, John felt his eyes getting heavy.  He sipped on his coffee, waiting for it to take effect, but he continued to struggle with focusing on the road.  Not wanting to wake his family, he left the radio off and continued to take more frequent sips of coffee.   John started to doze off for a couple of seconds and was startled by the car’s tires hitting the rumble strip.  He was thankful that they were the only car on the dark highway, but he didn’t see it as a good excuse for falling asleep behind the wheel.  After 5 minutes of focused driving, John dozed off again only to be awakened by Penny, who yelled at him to wake up.  Had John not been awakened by Penny, he would have run the car through construction work, 100 ft. ahead and causing injuries to himself and his passengers.  John and Penny switched placed and they were fortunate to reach their destination safely and well-rested.  However, many drivers are not as lucky as John and his family.

Sleepy Drivers are Added Dangers to Our Roadways

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths and a drowsy, sleep deprived driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver.  A driver who has had six hours of sleep or less is more likely to be less attentive to his/her driving and have a slower reaction time, making them at greater risk to be the cause of an otherwise preventable accident.  4.2% of drivers admit to dozing off while driving, but the actual rate of drivers falling asleep behind the wheel is higher.  Many drivers, even if falling asleep for a few seconds, may not realize or count that as sleeping while driving.  Even within seconds, an inattentive and drowsy driver can make life-changing mistakes such as driving off of the road or into oncoming traffic.  It’s often more difficult and dangerous to overcorrect a mistake than avoiding it in the first place.

Stay Awake, Stay Alive

Whether you had to get up early to beat rush hour or have been in the car for the long haul, you’re most likely a little tired and maybe feel a little unfocused.  First of all, it’s important to get the ideal 8 hours of sleep a night, but for many busy commuters that’s not possible.  If you are a “napper”, make sure you keep your nap short (like 20 minutes or less) otherwise you’ll feel more tired than you did before.  Don’t load up on foods that make you tired or have too much sugar and caffeine.  You may stay awake for a while, but your body may “crash” making you feel sluggish and sleepy.  Don’t forget to take breaks and if you drive with the radio or other passengers, make sure they are aiding to your staying awake, but not distracting you.  Above all, if you are too tired to drive, just like intoxication, hand your keys to someone else.

Early birds may get the worm, but sleep deprived drivers may get in an accident.  Don’t force yourself to drive without sleep.  Hit the snooze and arrive alive!

Andrew Mounier
Andrew Mounier is a Content Engineer and Author. He has worked in marketing for over a decade and finds his passion in bringing concepts to life for the world to enjoy. He is also an avid legal blogger and currently working on a book with his wife about social entrepreneurship. He is a true Socialpreneur and finds that his goal in life is to be an agent for positive social change through both his writing and business endeavors.
Andrew Mounier
Andrew Mounier

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