Drowsy driving is a factor in thousands of crash-related injuries and deaths in California. According to researchers, the impairment caused by sleepiness is similar to driving with a blood alcohol content of .10%. It causes loss of attention and awareness of drivers’ surroundings, and impairs their ability to react to emergencies and avoid dangerous situations on the road.
Although drowsiness can overwhelm any driver, higher risks exist for certain people, including:
- People who work excessively long hours, night shifts or irregular shifts.
- People whose jobs involve mostly driving, such as bus drivers and long-distance haulers.
- People with sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea.
- Teens with less experience in driving and inadequate sleep routines.
Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, drivers can take the following steps to avoid drowsy driving:
- Plan the trip with driving hours in mind, working rest breaks into the schedule.
- Avoid long days of continuous driving.
- Consider the body’s internal clock that causes sleepiness after midnight and midday.
- Get a couple of good nights’ sleep on the night before embarking on a long-distance trip.
- Avoid sedatives and alcohol before a trip because they can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid traveling alone because a companion can help to keep the driver alert.
- Never ignore signs of sleepiness, and take a rest break at the first symptoms of drowsiness.
Anyone injured in car accidents caused by a drowsy or otherwise negligent driver might have grounds to pursue financial relief. The California civil justice system allows personal injury victims to file lawsuits for economic and other damage recovery. However, one will need to establish negligence.