By Francis M. Smith
Most of us rejoiced this past Saturday because it was Daylight Savings Time! We moved our clocks ahead one hour to capture more daylight as the days get longer and we smiled at this annual reminder that spring is just two weeks away. Warmer weather! Longer Days! As a Personal Injury Attorney, however, I see danger on the roads. The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), a non-profit group that provides free driver safety programs, agrees with me. In fact, their newest program is called "Recognizing the Drowsy Driver."
It's Natural To Feel A Little Off
"The change throws off our internal clock, and it can take as long as two weeks for our bodies to adjust," says David Reich, public relations director for The National Road Safety Foundation.
"Drowsiness, a condition most drivers fail to recognize, can be as dangerous as drinking and driving," he adds. "Studies show 60 percent of us have driven while feeling sleepy, and more than a third admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Drowsiness is a factor in a substantial number of traffic crashes."
More than a third of drivers admit to falling asleep at wheel!
NRSF lists several signs that should warn a driver to stop and rest:
• Difficulty focusing, with frequent blinking
• Daydreaming or not remembering the last few miles driven
• Head nodding
• Repeated yawning or rubbing eyes
• Drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips
And advice for drivers experiencing these warning signs:
- Pull over at the next exit or a safe rest area and take a berak or a 20-minute nap
- Have a cup or two of coffee or caffeinated snacks and allow 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream
- Don't drink alcohol or take medications
Similar to drunk driving accidents, sleep-induced crashes are often very serious, since the driver does not take evasive or corrective action as the vehicle loses control. Especially on a major roadway where high speed driving is prevalent and sleepy drivers may be rushing to get home and go to bed, it is important to be vigilant of the drivers that surround you as there may be potential for swerving and other drowsy driving errors.
You can listen to The Foundation's newest program, "Recognizing the Drowsy Driver," is available free by visiting www.nationalroadsafety.org. You can also download it and other driver safety programs.
If you find yourself in a car accident due to the negligence of a drowsy driver, feel free to call me at 908 233-5800, or contact me online or email me for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.