Drowsy driving causes about 100,000 car accidents each year. Nearly everyone has driven while tired. Maybe they were up all night with a crying baby, not feeling well, or just couldn’t sleep – but they still had to drive to work the next day. Like many people, you may think a cup of coffee will keep your drowsiness under control, but it may not. Keep reading to learn about why this isn’t true and for the truth behind other drowsy driving myths.
Myth #1: “Drinking a cup of coffee will help me overcome the effects of drowsiness so I can drive safely.”
Drinks like coffee that contain caffeine can make you feel more alert. If you normally get enough sleep and are a little tired after one late night, a cup of coffee may help you through your commute. But the effects of caffeine last only for a short time. People who are seriously sleep-deprived are likely to have “micro-sleeps” -brief lapses that last 4-5 seconds, even if they fuel up on coffee. That 4-5 seconds is plenty of time for an accident to occur.
Myth #2: “I can tell when I’m falling asleep, and I’ll pull over.”
Most people believe that they can control their sleep. But, this isn’t true. In one study, 80% of the participants said they could predict when they were about to fall asleep, and they were wrong.
Sleep is an involuntary reaction. Drowsy drivers can fall asleep and never even know it. When you’re behind the wheel, being asleep for even a few seconds can be deadly.
Myth #3: “I’m young! Young people need less sleep. I’ll be ok.”
Are you surprised to learn that males under 25 are the greatest risk of falling asleep at the wheel? In fact, half of the victims of drowsy-driving related crashes involve drivers under 25.
Myth #4 : “If I’m a safe driver, it doesn’t matter if I’m sleepy.”
A safe driver is an alert driver. Even a normally safe driver can become confused or use poor judgement when they are sleepy. And a sleeping driver can’t make decisions at all.
Myth #5: “Sure, I’m a little tired, but I get plenty of sleep.”
Most of us don’t get the sleep we need. The average person needs at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night. If you go to bed late and then wake up early for work, you probably are building up a sleep debt. If you spend eight hours in bed, but wake up feeling tired, you may have a medical condition such as sleep apnea that is preventing you from getting enough sleep. Whatever the cause of your fatigue, avoid driving when you feel drowsy.
It is important to know that drinking an alcoholic beverage amplifies the effects of fatigue. To a tired person, one drink can have the effect of four or five drinks. Don’t drink and drive if you are tired – even if you’re sure your blood alcohol is below the legal limit.
If you have been injured in a West Palm Beach car crash caused by a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering and other losses.
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