The Washington State Patrol just released a media release about the dangers of drowsy driving. According to the WSP, driving drowsy can be just as dangers as driving under the influence or driving distracted.
The WSP reports that 17 people were injured and 74 people were seriously injured in 2010 in Washington state due to motor vehicle accidents in which a driver was driving while drowsy or fell asleep at the wheel. Sleep deprivation is one of the top causes of car accidents and people who are tired and drowsy have impaired brains in the same way that alcohol can impair a brain.
“It always breaks my heart to hear that someone was killed or injured because a driver fell asleep at the wheel; these are totally preventable deaths and collisions,” said Chief John Batiste, Washington State Patrol.
Drivers know when they are driving drowsy. The signs are unmistakable: having trouble keeping eyes open, problems keeping the head up, drifting from their line, swerving, tailgating, missing traffic signs, driving past their exit, inability to remember miles driven and feelings of restlessness. These are signs that drivers must pay attention to.
Drivers who fall asleep often are involved in single car accidents in which they go off the road and hit a tree, a telephone pole or land in a ditch. Drivers who are sleep deprived have impaired coordination, longer reaction ties and impaired judgment. Sometimes they kill their passenger, their baby or a spouse. Sometimes they kill bicyclists or people walking along the road or innocent people in another passenger vehicle.
Driving while drowsy is not only dangerous but it is illegal. If a driver is so drowsy that they fall asleep at the wheel or cause an accident, they are failing to exercise due care and they can be charged with negligent driving. Last week, a Seattle motorcyclist was sentenced to 16 months confinement because she fell asleep during a cross-country motorcycle race and hit and injured two bicyclists causing serious injuries.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working hard to reduce sleep-deprived driving in the commercial trucking industry by requiring physical exams, screening for sleep apnea and requiring rest periods.
The Washington State Patrol provides the following safety trips for motorists to avoid accidents:
- Make sure you are rested before taking a road trip
- Stop for breaks
- Tag team driving with a buddy
- Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours
- Take a 15-20 minute nap if you feel drowsy
- Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness
- Don’t drive at time when you would normally be sleeping
This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents and the family of those killed.
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Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Bellevue to assist you.