Although often overlooked as a driving hazard, drowsiness may cause impairments that puts drowsy drivers themselves, and others at risk.
Awareness of the dangers of speeding, drunk driving and other reckless behaviors has increased in recent years. However, many Georgia motorists still overlook the risks associated with drowsy driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsiness-related auto collisions cause an estimated 6,400 deaths each year, and many more people are injured in such wrecks.
Causes of drowsy driving
For many drowsy drivers, not getting adequate rest at night is a common factor. Though, there are several other causes that often lead to drivers being overly tired. For example, certain medications and the consumption of alcoholic beverages may also make drivers drowsy or enhance the effects of sleepiness or fatigue. Undiagnosed left untreated, sleep disorders may lead to people being drowsy while they are driving.
Anyone who is overly tired may be at risk for drowsy driving. However, shift workers and commercial vehicle operators, among some other groups, may be more likely to be too sleepy or fatigued to drive safely.
Effects of fatigue
Many believe that falling asleep behind the wheel is the only danger of driving while they are tired. However, there are several other effects of drowsiness that may affect their ability to operate their vehicles. In fact, Today reports motorists may experience similar impairments as if they had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit when they get less than four hours of sleep in a day. The effects that sleepiness and fatigue may have on drivers include the following:
- Delayed reactions
- Diminished ability to focus on the road
- Impaired decision-making
Due to these impairments, drowsy drivers may be unable to adjust to changes in the traffic conditions or to road hazards that appear in time to avoid collisions.
If motorists are already fatigued or are getting tired, it is best to change drivers or stop to rest. On longer trips, scheduling regular breaks and travelling when they would be awake normally may help people stave off drowsiness. Additionally, it is helpful for them to travel with another person who is alert. Motorists may also benefit from staying away from heavier foods just before they hit the road and while they are traveling.
Seeking legal guidance
As a result of drowsy driving collisions, people in Georgia may suffer serious injuries. These injuries may require extensive medical treatment and, in some cases, may force them to take time off work to recover. This may not only lead to undue medical expenses, but also lost wages, among other damages. Thus, those who have experienced such situations may benefit from discussing their rights and options for pursuing compensation with an attorney.