As we recently reported on our Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, early darkness brings its own set of risk factors — and increases the likelihood of being involved in a serious or fatal accident.
Included is the risk of drowsy driving — particularly as we head into the busy holiday shopping and travel season. Accordingly, the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 12 to 18 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
Our Montgomery accident attorneys know exhausted drivers can be every bit as dangerous as those who are intoxicated behind the wheel. And a poll conducted by the foundation in March revealed professional drivers and pilots are not immune. In fact, about 1 in 4 pilots and train operators admitted to allowing sleepiness to affect their job performance at least once a week! Truck drivers had results nearly as bad.
The same group was at six times greater risk of being involved in an accident while commuting to or from work.
“Driving home from work after a long shift is associated with crashes due to sleepiness,” says Dr. Sanjay Patel, a sleep researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers.”
Teen drivers are also at high risk.
“Young Americans are sleepy, and this affects their health and safety,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “It’s important to get the word out that it’s dangerous to drive drowsy. This could save thousands of lives.”
The NSF estimates 1 in 6 fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. About half of American drivers admit to having driven drowsy — more than one-third acknowledge having done so in the past month.
Safety advocates now put the risk of driving drowsy on par with driving drunk. Those awake 20 hours or longer have reaction times similar to a driver with a blood-alcohol level of .08 and may be taking 3-4 second microsleeps without even realizing it.
Even when you are awake, driving at night can be quite dangerous. And the faster you drive, the less time you have to react. As the U.S. Department of Transportation reports, it’s easy to outdrive your headlights. Low beams permit you to spot an object on the road about 160 feet in front of your vehicle. And most drivers need additional time to react. Total stopping distance for the average vehicle is more than 100 feet at 30 mph. It’s nearly 200 feet at 40 mph.
At 70 mph, it takes nearly 500 feet to come to a complete stop.
The consequences of poor driving decisions are exacerbated after dark. So are the penalties for poor driving habits. Commit to yourself and to your family to make it a safe holiday season on the road.
Avoid distractions. Never drink and drive. Obey the rules of the road. Get plenty of rest. And wear your seat belt. Each can reduce your risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident. Together we can make the roads safer for everyone.
Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 1-866-942-9315 to speak with a personal injury attorney today.
Alabama Traffic Crashes: Darkness and Daylight Savings Time, Allred & Allred, Nov. 7, 2012.