Canadians have been aware of the risks of impaired driving for many years now, and more recently increased attention has been brought to the dangers of distracted driving.
However, less emphasis has been placed on another dangerous driving behaviour: drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving is dangerous for drivers in any age group, but according to researchers at Queen's University, younger drivers, particularly under age 25, may be more inclined to overestimate their ability to drive while sleepy. Younger drivers were also found more likely to be sleep-deprived while behind the wheel, and more likely to think that drowsy driving is a normal behaviour.
However, the reality is that driving while sleepy can be extremely dangerous. The Foundation for Traffic Safety, based in Washington, D.C., reports that 21 per cent of fatal auto accidents in the United States were linked to drowsy driving. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, it is estimated that fatigued driving plays a part in 26 per cent of all injurious and fatal crashes.
The effects of drowsiness behind the wheel can be like the effects of alcohol consumption, according to the researchers at Queen's University. Particularly, the researchers found that young drivers, having not slept for 18.5 hours, committed errors similar to those committed by drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .05. The errors committed by young adults who were awake for 21 hours were like the errors committed by people with a BAC of .08.
Like many auto accidents, crashes caused by drowsy driving are preventable. With that in mind, Gluckstein Lawyers would like to take this opportunity to remind motorists to avoid driving while fatigued.
Here are some good tips for avoiding drowsy driving:
- Don't ignore the signs of sleepiness, such as not being able to keep your eyes open, yawning, trouble maintaining your lane and fighting to keep yourself awake.
- Don't rely on loud music or rolling down the window to wake you up. These methods don't work.
- Try to avoid driving between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., when most people's bodies naturally require sleep.
- Take a rest break every 200 kilometres or every two hours.
- If you do feel sleepy, then pull off to a safe place and take a nap of 15 or 20 minutes.
- In general, be well rested before getting behind the wheel. Sleep experts recommend having a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.
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