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On Sunday, March 14, Daylight Saving Time began, which means that there is an additional hour of daylight in the afternoon. What is known as the spring ahead time change means that people lose an hour of sleep, which can disrupt the natural sleep cycle and increase the risk of drowsy driving car accidents, particularly during the days immediately following the time change. Some states are seriously considering doing away with the time change permanently, but until that happens, there are steps motorists can take to get the sleep they need and avoid drowsy driving-related car accidents. If a motorist is injured in a drowsy driving car accident, he or she is urged to contact a catastrophic injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Motorists do not always take drowsy driving as seriously as other dangerous driving behavior such as drunk driving, speeding, or distracted driving. However, safety officials say that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, studies show that getting less than five hours of sleep is the same as driving drunk. Both drowsy driving and drunk driving impact how well a driver can make quick decisions and react to an unexpected situation. The sudden time change can disrupt a driver’s sleep pattern, which can reduce his or her sleep quality over several days or longer. According to an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, when people’s circadian rhythm, the natural internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is disrupted, it can have a negative impact on overall health.
The following are examples of drowsy driving warnings signs. If a motorist starts to experience any of these symptoms, he or she should pull over to a safe, well-lit spot and rest:
According to the opens in a new windowNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 100,000 car accidents, nearly 71,000 injuries, and over 1,500 fatalities each year. In addition, a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that approximately 60 percent of drivers admitted that they drove while feeling fatigued during the past year, and one-third of those drivers said that they had fallen asleep while driving. If a motorist closes his or her eyes for a mere five seconds when traveling at a speed of 55 mph, it is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Unfortunately, drowsy driving often goes unreported, and safety officials, sleep scientists, and public health officials agree that the actual statistics are likely much higher.
Drowsy driving-related car accidents can happen at any time of the day if the driver is functioning on too little sleep. However, the following factors are associated with car accidents involving a drowsy driver:
Unlike drunk driving or driving while under the influence of drugs, drowsy driving is not illegal. At some point, most drivers will get behind the wheel of their car despite feeling slightly drowsy or even extremely exhausted. The average adult should get at least seven (7) hours of sleep each night, and the average teen needs at least eight (8) hours of sleep. Too often, however, life gets in the way and people do not get the recommended hours of sleep that they need. Although most people are susceptible to drowsy driving, the following individuals are more likely to do so:
The clocks are moved ahead every year in March, so the time change should come as no surprise. By planning ahead, motorists can anticipate the effect that the lost hour of sleep will have on them and take steps to ensure that they are well rested when they get behind the wheel, including the following:
To reduce the risk of being involved in a drowsy driving car accident, there are a number of steps motorists can take, in addition to getting enough sleep:
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a drowsy driving accident, you are urged to contact the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at ACTS Law as soon as possible. These preventable accidents can cause devastating injuries and extensive property damage. We will investigate the details of the accident, determine who is responsible for your injuries, and fight to ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAWopens phone dialer or contact us online.
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