What is Drowsy Driving?

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What is Drowsy Driving?

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If you have ever been driving and felt your eyes growing heavy, you have probably experienced drowsy driving. Warning signs of fatigue while driving include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty remembering the last few miles driven
  • Rubbing eyes or frequent blinking
  • Drifting out of your lane
  • Becoming irritable or feeling the urge to move

These signs are telling you that your body needs rest. While you do have deadlines to meet and places to be, you also need to get there safely, so listen to your body and pull over, at least for a short break.

Dangers of Driver Fatigue

Fatigue is dangerous for any driver, increasing the odds of accidents. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation claims that driving while drowsy can be as bad as driving drunk. Driving while fatigued increases the chances of drifting out of your lane, failing to notice and obey traffic signals, unexpected changes in speed, and slower reaction times to traffic around you.

For commercial drivers of semi-trucks, the sheer size of the vehicle increases the danger, especially to other drivers on the road. Passenger vehicles simply do not stand a chance when colliding with an 18-wheeler. You also risk rolling your rig, damaging your truck, trailer, and any load you may be hauling.

Preventing Fatigue

You have likely already experienced fatigue while on the road, but there are some steps you can take to help prevent fatigue. The Department of Transportation has implemented regulations regarding how long you may drive before taking a required break in an effort to help prevent drowsy driving and other unsafe practices. Some of these rules are complex, and changes may be made to the laws in the near future, but they generally require:

  • A 30-minute break for every eight hours of driving
  • A 10-hour break for every 14 hours on-duty
  • That only 11 of any 14 consecutive on-duty hours be spent driving
  • A maximum of 60 on-duty hours in seven consecutive days OR 70 on-duty hours in eight consecutive days, after which a 34-hour break is required

Many drivers now have electronic logging devices, which show available time left on-duty and driving, making it simpler for you to know when you are required to take a break. However, even while following regulations, you may begin to feel fatigued. You can help to reduce or eliminate this fatigue by ensuring that you:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Stop to allow yourself to move or walk around regularly
  • Use required breaks for rest
  • Use temperature and radio control to help keep you alert

Even if you carefully follow regulations and take precautions to prevent fatigue, you will likely find yourself growing sleepy at the wheel at some point. In that case, you should pull over and rest immediately.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been involved in an accident, whether or not fatigue was the cause, contact the attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, a Personal Injury Law Firm today. Our attorneys will work to help you establish who was at fault, defending your rights and getting you back on the road. 

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