Those open stretches of rural Texas road may contribute to the alarming rate of drowsy driving crashes in our state. A report from NBC revealed that in Texas the number of drowsy driving fatalities in rural areas is 6.8 times higher than in urban areas.
Another study by the mattress company Amerisleep and Sleep Junkie, a mattress review website, revealed that in 2016, one in every five drowsy driving fatalities occurred in Texas. Looking at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, researchers saw that Texas drowsy driving fatalities were four times higher than California drowsy driving fatalities, even though California has 10 million more residents.
Understanding Drowsy Driving
Many people who don’t get enough sleep think they can overcome drowsiness by drinking coffee. But while coffee my briefly increase alertness, it is no substitute for sleep.
Sleep is necessary for the body to “recharge.” If the brain doesn’t have time to rest, it can shut down, even when the body is awake. That’s called microsleep – a brief loss of consciousness that, if it occurs while driving, can be deadly.
The Nature of Drowsy Driving Fatalities
Most drowsy driving fatalities involve a solo driver crashing into an inanimate object (such as a tree or guardrail), but about 15 percent of fatal drowsy driving crashes are head-on collisions between two vehicles. As people start to nod off, they may veer into the oncoming lane.
Preventing Drowsy Driving Crashes
There are several things drivers can do to prevent drowsy driving crashes:
- Get plenty of rest, on a regular schedule – Erratic sleeping schedules, like the ones many truckers have, can interfere with the quality of one’s sleep.
- Pull over if you feel tired – Drowsy drivers sometimes try to “outrun” their own tiredness to get to their destination; a better option is to pull over in a safe location and take a short nap.
- Be vigilant about other vehicles, especially at night – Drivers who are distracted in any way may not notice if a car veers into their lane.
- Report dangerous behavior – If drivers see another vehicle that seems to be repeatedly veering out of its lane, they should contact police (only if it’s safe to do so).
- Take turns at the wheel – If possible, on long road trips, drivers should spend no more than three consecutive hours behind the wheel; switching drivers and taking frequent breaks can help keep drowsiness at bay.
If you’ve been injured in a crash and suspect a drowsy driver is to blame, talk to one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. And we work personal injury cases on contingency, meaning you pay nothing up-front for representation. Contact us today to request your free, no-obligation case consultation.