I have visited this so-called drowsy driving town once or twice. It’s when you are so sick or tired or just plain sleep deprived that it is actually hard to keep your eyes open, let alone concentrate on the road. Case in point; last week I had the flu and hadn’t slept more than two hours in a couple days. As I was driving to work, I called my father (on my hands free device, of course) and this is what he said:
“You need to be careful when you are this tired; it’s an accident waiting to happen. It’s as bad as drunk driving, so you shouldn’t be driving right now and should have someone come pick you up.”
I chalked it up to overprotective parenting and went about my day. On the way home, I rear-ended a delivery truck. This accident resulted in a ticket, an insurance claim and a call to tell my father he hit the nail on the head. Needless to say, he wasn’t surprised.
According to a study done by the AAA Foundations for Traffic Safety, 41 percent of drivers admitted they had “fallen asleep” while driving at least once. 11% said they had done so in the past year, and 4% said they had done so in the past month. Staggering statistics, but how can it be as bad as drunk driving?
It makes sense when you think about it logically:
- A drunk driver may react to an upcoming accident by removing their foot from the pedal.
- A driver who is asleep doesn’t even know the accident is happening, so typically cannot react at all.
- A participant in a study who had been awake for 20 hours exhibited similar behaviors to someone with a 0.05 blood alcohol level, and demonstrated response speeds that were up to 50% lower than well-rested participants.
So, what do you do if you are feeling like you are heading to drowsy driving town? U.S. News offers some tips to be a safe and alert driver:
- Have a designated driver when you’re sleep deprived.
- Use public transportation when you can.
- Take medication labels seriously.
- Watch out for warning sign of drowsiness (difficulty keeping your eyes open, the inability to keep your head up, daydreaming or tailgating).
- Pull off the road. Your destination can’t be as important as being safe.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. That mantra works for our industry too, so if you are in the market for auto insurance, locate an agency appointed with Foremost to help.