Report: 37 percent of drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel

Drowsy driving is an incredibly dangerous behavior that leads to fatalities and injuries, though it is entirely preventable.

Generally speaking, most people in Nevada know that trying to drive while tired is a bad idea. Unfortunately, too many fail to keep themselves from getting behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, approximately 800 people died and 44,000 were injured as a result of drowsy driving.

A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sought to expose just how frequently drivers are tired and the dangerous consequences. In addition to letting this information soak in, people should also take note of ways to prevent falling asleep at the wheel.

The report

In November 2014, the foundation released a report specifically about drowsy driving. Researchers evaluated data from 2009 to 2013, looking at 14,268 motor vehicle accidents that took place during that time. In every crash, a vehicle was towed from the scene, and trained investigators assessed the drowsiness of the drivers involved.

The key findings from the study include the following:

  • 21 percent of fatal accidents involved a drowsy driver
  • 13 percent of accidents leading to a hospitalization involved a drowsy driver
  • 6 percent of all crashes studied involved a drowsy driver

Extrapolated, the data suggest that driver exhaustion is involved in about 6,400 fatal accidents every year.

Recognize the signs

What makes these numbers especially devastating is that it is preventable. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 37 percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point, despite 96 percent of people the foundation surveyed stating that driving while extremely tired is "unacceptable."

People who operate a motor vehicle should be able to spot the signs that they are too tired to drive. For example, drivers whose eyes begin blinking heavily or who cannot seem to recall the last few miles driven should not be behind the wheel. Additionally, a driver whose head begins to nod or who has trouble focusing should immediately pull over.

Prevention

Fortunately, these accidents are entirely preventable by taking a few simple steps. Coffee and rolling down the windows are temporary fixes, but they should not be relied upon. Instead, people who are about to drive long distances should plan ahead. Working in set breaks every few hours is a good idea, as it allows the driver to get out of the vehicle and walk around. Whenever possible, people should try to have another licensed driver in the vehicle who can share the driving responsibility.

Worst-case scenario, a driver who is tired should pull over and rest somewhere safe, such as a hotel. The cost of causing an accident is likely much worse than the cost of renting a room. Anyone who has questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Nevada.

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