The United States is crisscrossed with roads, highways, and interstates. We use them, with the help of our cars, to go just about everywhere: work, the store, to see family, to go on vacation.
According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 87% of the trips we make, short or long, are in personal vehicles and 91% of people commute to work using their cars. When it comes to long-distance travel, almost 91% of all trips are in a personal vehicle, as opposed to planes, trains, and boats.
Americans love to drive. It makes us feel independent and provides a sense of freedom that some say can be found nowhere else. With the amount of driving that goes on in this country, it’s no wonder that somewhere around 100,000 of the accidents reported every year are the direct result of driver fatigue. A conservative figured given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that these crashes result in 71,000 injuries, 1,500 deaths, and $12.5 billion in losses and property damage.
Chances are that at one point in your life, you’ve been too tired to drive. It’s a state brought on by extreme fatigue, which is generally caused by a lack of sleep or the decision to drive during a time at which you would normally be sleeping.
Not only does this behavior put your life at risk, but it could mean you are endangering the lives of others as well. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to determine whether or not you’re too tired to drive, and lots of steps that can be taken to avoid driving under circumstances that could easily result in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.
Younger adults are much more likely to drive while drowsy than anyone else. In fact, 71% of adults ages 18-29 have driven while fatigued, as compared to 52% of 30-64 year-olds and 19% of those aged 65 and up. This is due, in part, to the fact that younger folks get sleepier than older folks do because the mechanism by which they fall asleep is untainted by insomnia and other sleep problems that often progress with age.
A young person’s likelihood to drive while sleepy is also tied directly to their experience. You people have the tendency to think they don’t need as much sleep as they actually do. They also tend to have little experience with making long drives. While they may have taken a “long” trip in the past, for many young drivers this means they’ve driven a few hours at a time.
So when the opportunity presents itself for them to go on a longer road trip, an 8-hour drive for example, young drivers are more inclined to jump at the chance without considering how much driving that really is. Before they know it, they’re exhausted but continue to push on, increasing the chances that they will fall asleep at the wheel and cause a car accident.
Young people aren’t the only ones who face a great risk from driving while fatigued. The following groups are at risk as well:
Your body doesn’t enjoy sleep deprivation, and it has a multitude of ways to let you know that you need to get some rest. If you’re on the road and find that any of the following are true, you may be too tired to drive:
An overwhelming sense of sleepiness can strike a driver at any time, so it’s important to have a plan for what to do in the event that you’re driving drowsy with some miles to go before you’re done. If this is this situation you’ve found yourself in, these tips can help you stay safe until you reach your destination:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s doubly true when it comes to driving while fatigued. If you have a long road trip or commute coming up, and you’re concerned that tiredness could be an issue, take the following steps to prepare yourself for your journey:
Nowadays, fewer people are driving. They’re taking advantage of mass transit like commuter trains and buses. While driving is slowly on the decline, until we live in a world where every car is driverless, there will always be those who have to spend long hours in the car. That said, there are several technologies that are being integrated into newer vehicles that can help prevent accidents caused by sleep deprivation.
A good portion of the major car manufacturers are working on technology that alerts a driver when they are starting to get drowsy. These systems can track your eyes to see how often you’re blinking, which is one of the biggest signs of sleepiness. They can also keep an eye on your driving to make sure you’re not drifting out of your lane and either alert you or react on their own if you do. Some cars also have forward collision warning systems which use sensors to watch the vehicle in front of you and brake for you if you are in danger of hitting them.
Whether you drive a newer car packed with technology to help keep you alert or not, you should never drive in a condition where you’re too sleepy or drowsy to safely operate a car. If you fall asleep at the wheel, you could all too easily run off the road or drift into oncoming traffic and kill yourself or someone else. No matter how important your trip is, it’s not worth risking your life or the life of an innocent family. Be smart, be safe, and drive alert; always.
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We live in Friendship, Wisconsin, and Boller & Vaughan came to our doorstep to discuss our mother’s wrongful death claim on a Saturday morning. Not only were we pleased with the large recovery, we were so thankful to have lawyers who were willing to explain to us every twist and turn along the way. It is great to know there is a law firm that will fight for the rights of elderly people all over Wisconsin.
Mr. Boller and Ms. Vaughan were incredible in working on my case and my daughter’s case. I was out of work and in the hospital with a new baby. Mr. Boller and Ms. Vaughan protected our rights and it was a pleasure to work with them. I hope never to be in another motor vehicle accident, however, if I am and I am injured, I will contact Boller & Vaughan immediately.
I was referred to Michelle through a friend. I have never had a better experience. It took a little over a year to get my settlement but the staff there stayed in constant contact and kept me in the loop. Oh, and Michelle actually got me MORE money than we discussed. I will refer anyone to this firm. Words cannot do justice the thanks that I have for Michelle and her staff (Mary especially) thank you guys so much!
After my husband died as a result of a motor vehicle accident, Boller & Vaughan spent countless hours talking with me, meeting with me in person, and making sure that I was okay. The drunk driver who hit us did not have any insurance, and we had to make a claim through our own insurance. Boller & Vaughan was fantastic at explaining the law to me and the handling of our claims.
After my son was injured in a daycare setting, Ms. Vaughan took the time to thoroughly investigate our case and my son’s injuries. Michele was approachable and had answers to our questions. Talking with her helped to relieve many of our anxieties.