Drowsy driving a big safety hazard for Connecticut motorists

Drowsy driving a big safety hazard for Connecticut motorists

How many times have you gotten behind the wheel of a car after staying out late with friends? Or climbed in your vehicle to head to work, even though you hardly got any sleep at all the night before?

A lot of us think of scenarios like this as facts of life. After all, we're busy, and sometimes that means burning the candle at both ends.

In reality, though, drowsy driving is very dangerous - just as dangerous as drunk driving. Drowsiness impairs reaction time, decreases a driver's ability to perceive hazards, limits judgment and greatly increases the chances of being involved in a car accident. According to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, driving after 20 to 21 hours without sleep is just as impairing as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08. Staying awake for 24 hours is comparable to a blood alcohol content of 0.10.

A lot of the risk comes from the fact that drowsy drivers are apt to fall asleep behind the wheel. A recent CDC survey revealed that 4.2 percent of adult drivers reported falling asleep behind the wheel at some point during the previous 30 days. In Connecticut, the rate was slightly lower - 3 percent of survey respondents admitted to falling asleep while driving during the past month. Experts, though, think that the actual rate is much higher. They say that many people - especially those who nod off for just a few seconds - do not realize that they have fallen asleep.

Recognizing the signs of drowsy driving

The researchers who performed the CDC study cautioned that drivers need to be aware of the warning signs that they might be too sleepy to drive safely. Some of the indicators that you might be at risk of causing a drowsy driving accident include the following:

  • Having trouble remembering the last few miles of driving
  • Hitting rumble strips or having trouble staying in your lane
  • Feeling compelled to close your eyes
  • Missing an exit or a turn
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Having trouble focusing or having wandering thoughts

If you experience any of these symptoms, the safest thing to do is to find somewhere safe to park and take a quick nap. Even a 15 or 20 minute rest can be enough to give you the energy you need to get to your destination safely. Sometimes consuming caffeine can help, but it probably won't if you are the kind of person who drinks coffee, tea or soda regularly. Putting on loud music or turning up the air conditioning won't do anything to make you a safer driver.

All Connecticut drivers need to do their part to reduce drowsy driving accident rates by staying off the road when they are too tired to be safe. When drowsy driving accidents do happen, Connecticut law gives injured victims the right to pursue personal injury lawsuits to seek financial compensation for their losses. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drowsy driving accident, a New Haven personal injury attorney can review your case and help you understand your options.