Stay Awake Behind the Wheel: Helpful Facts and FAQs

male driver yawning and closing eyes while operating vehicle; drowsy driving accidents

Drowsy or fatigued driving is among the most significant risk factors for car accidents. Drivers should familiarize themselves with the dangers of drowsy driving, who is at risk of driving drowsy, and the steps to take after a drowsy driving accident. If you are harmed in a drowsy driving accident, contact Parnall Law to learn more about how a car accident attorney in New Mexico could help.

Why Is Driving While Fatigued Dangerous?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 684 fatalities occurred in drowsy driving-related auto accidents in one recent year. Authorities consider driving while fatigued dangerous because drowsiness or fatigue can have many of the same effects on a driver as alcohol or drug impairment.

For example, fatigue can alter a driver’s perception, slow their reaction times, and impair their judgment, making it harder to operate a vehicle safely. Drowsiness or fatigue also dramatically increases the risk of a driver falling asleep behind the wheel or engaging in microsleep, a condition involving periods of unconsciousness that last a few seconds.

Who Is at Risk of Drowsy Driving?

Although anyone can become tired or sleepy behind the wheel, certain circumstances can increase the risk of drowsy driving.

Common risk factors for drowsy or fatigued driving include the following:

  • Driving for long hours without a break or sleep
  • Not getting enough restful sleep
  • Working night shifts or split shifts
  • Having untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or narcolepsy
  • Using medications that induce sleep or cause fatigue or drowsiness as a side effect
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal narcotics
  • Driving late at night or during the early morning hours

What Are Signs of Drowsy Driving?

You can decrease your chances of being involved in a drowsy driving accident by recognizing the signs of fatigue or drowsiness in yourself, the person driving your vehicle, and other drivers. Common signs of driver fatigue include:

  • Frequent yawning
  • Constant blinking of the eyes
  • Difficulty remembering the last few minutes or miles
  • Missing exits or turns
  • Drifting out of the lane or over the center line or median
  • Hitting the fog line or rumble strips on the side of the road
  • Ending up on the wrong side of the road or traveling the wrong way down a one-way street or access ramp
  • Frequent changes in speed
  • Difficulty keeping pace with traffic

If you notice these signs in yourself, pull off the road to get some rest or switch drivers. If you suspect other drivers of drowsy driving, pull over to let the driver pass and contact the authorities.

What Should I Do If I’m in a Drowsy Driving Crash?

If you suffer injuries in a drowsy driving crash, you can take steps to protect your health and your legal rights.

Consider doing the following after an accident involving a drowsy driver:

  • Report the crash to law enforcement
  • Seek immediate medical attention to diagnose injuries you may have suffered in the accident
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and attend all follow-up appointments
  • Request copies of your medical records and the police accident report
  • Notify your auto insurance provider about the accident
  • Keep any bills, invoices, or receipts from the accident and copies of your pay stubs if you miss work due to your injuries

Finally, if you were injured in an auto accident caused by a drowsy or fatigued driver, you need an experienced injury lawyer in NM to demand compensation and justice for your injuries. Hurt? Call Bert. Contact Parnall Law today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a car accident attorney in NM about your options for seeking financial relief.