When Daylight Saving Time ended on Nov. 1, you likely relished the extra hour of sleep you got. What you – like many people – may not realize is that it takes time for your body’s circadian rhythms to adjust to this change. It is no surprise, then, that an increase in auto accidents happens during this period. Since some of these accidents stem from drowsy driving, it is important to understand its signs and know how you can prevent it.
The impact of drowsy driving accidents
In the United States, around 100,000 auto accidents per year are attributed to drowsy driving, whether in part or in full. As a result, thousands of people die and many more sustain non-fatal injuries. These accidents often occur when human circadian rhythms dip, which happens during the middle of the night and in the late afternoon.
By driving while drowsy, your risk for getting in an accident is three times greater than if you were alert. Preventing one becomes easier if you know how to spot signs of drowsiness. These may include:
- Blinking frequently or feeling your eyelids grow heavy
- Drifting out of your lane
- Failing to remember the last few miles you drove
- Hitting rumble strips
- Missing traffic signals and signs
- Missing your exit or turn
- Nodding off
- Varying your speed for no apparent reason
- Yawning frequently
Ways to stay alert behind the wheel
If you find yourself exhibiting symptoms of drowsiness while driving, you may want to pull over and take a quick nap. You may want to combine it with a cup of coffee. Together, these can make you more alert for a short period. On longer drives, though, this method is less effective.
Sleeping enough, though, is the only real way to prevent drowsiness. In the United States, over one in three adults report that they get inadequate sleep on a regular basis. Adequate sleep, for adults, is between seven and nine hours per night. Reaching this number can be difficult in our on-the-go society. Yet, by getting proper sleep, you will improve your alertness, focus and response time while you are driving.
No matter how alert you are behind the wheel, other motorists may not take precautions against drowsiness. If a drowsy driver injures you in an accident in Anne Arundel County, an attorney can help you hold them accountable and pursue appropriate compensation.