Drowsy Driving Myths and Why They Do Not Prevent Crashes
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on May 24, 2022 in Car Accidents
Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of U.S. traffic accidents today. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are thousands of crashes resulting in hundreds of deaths each year. While the internet is full of tips for helping drivers to stay awake, most of the suggestions do not work. In fact, most of these drowsy driving myths could actually increase your risk of a crash.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver, you may have discovered the challenges of proving someone fell asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, the legal process for proving these cases is complicated, which is why victims may greatly benefit from the help of a qualified attorney.
At PKSD, we are committed to helping victims injured by negligence, including those injured in a drowsy driving crash. Our Milwaukee-based car crash lawyers are ready to discuss your situation and potential legal options. We have intake staff available to take your call 24/7. Your initial meeting is completely free.
Call 877-877-2228 for your FREE case review today.
What Common Myths Do People Believe About Drowsy Driving?
There are a lot of tips online about things drivers should do to help them stay awake on the road. However, most of these tips are drowsy driving myths that do not work. Some of these tips are false and could actually put drivers at greater risk for falling asleep at the wheel. The most common myths about staying awake behind the wheel include:
Caffeine From Coffee or Soda Will Keep Me Awake
Caffeine is a stimulant, so after about 20 to 30 minutes, you may feel more awake or alert for a short time. However, you will still have impaired judgement and slowed reflexes, even with the caffeine boost.
A lesser-known risk of using caffeine or other energy stimulants, however, is that they may cause drivers to experience microsleeps. These dangerous short sleep bursts are when people nod off without realizing it. Microsleeps typically last four to five seconds and cause drivers to:
- Close their eyes – without knowing it – for more than a blink
- Stare blankly without seeing the road or traffic in front of them
- Suddenly drop their head forward or backward, startling them awake
Microsleeps may also cause you to jolt or turn the wheel without realizing it. If you are traveling even 55 miles per hour during a microsleep, you would travel a distance of 100 yards or more. During that time, you could drift into oncoming traffic or hit a pedestrian.
I Know When I Am About to Fall Asleep
Many believe this drowsy driving myth to be true. However, even when you are at home and in bed, you do not know the exact moment when you fall asleep. Believing this myth makes the sleep-deprived — at least those who insist on driving while fatigued — a ticking time bomb.
I Am Too Young to Fall Asleep at the Wheel
The fact is that younger adults and teens actually need more sleep than older drivers, not less. Teens, especially, are less likely to get enough restful sleep. This is often due to fluctuating hormones. In fact, research shows these younger drivers need, on average, nine or more hours of sleep per night. In short, younger drivers are as vulnerable as older drivers, if not more so, to falling asleep at the wheel.
Playing Loud Music or Rolling Down the Windows Will Keep You Awake
Playing loud music may jar you a little, however, it will not make you safe to remain on the road. If you are struggling this hard to stay awake, your judgement and ability to drive safely is already grossly impaired. At this stage, it is best to find a nearby rest stop or other well-lit area so you can take a short nap.
Stopping to Take a Nap Will Not Help
Another drowsy driving myth. People may think they will be unable to fall asleep if they pull over for a short nap. However, anyone struggling to stay awake at the wheel will not have difficulty falling asleep. Even napping for a short amount of time can help to counteract your fatigue long enough to get you home safely. If you are worried about parking too long, use your phone to set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes of sleep.
I Am Used to Driving Tired
Certain kinds of workers or people who work alternative schedules may often believe this drowsy driving myth is true. However, it is false. No one gets “used to” driving drowsy, and those who choose to drive in this condition put their own lives and the lives of others at great risk.
Being Drowsy at the Wheel Can Cause Driver Errors
This statement is true. When you are drowsy, your ability to make decisions becomes significantly impaired. In fact, a recent study by AAA shows that the behavior of drowsy drivers can be the same as someone driving while intoxicated. Additionally, you are more prone to make a mistake on the road in this condition because a fatigued mind can play tricks on you. For instance, you may miss drivers in your blind spot or not see a motorcyclist or pedestrian in front of you until it is too late.
Pulling Over is the Safest Option When Tired
Pulling over is one of the safest options when you are tired and behind the wheel. However, not getting behind the wheel at all when you are drowsy is the safest and most responsible option.
What if You Start Feeling Tired on the Road?
Some people are more at risk for becoming tired or falling asleep at the wheel. These high-risk drivers include:
- Commercial drivers
- People who work alternative or late night shifts
- Drivers who suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
- Those who are taking medications that cause drowsiness
Rather than trying a drowsy driving myth that does not work and may increase your risk of a crash, try these options for not driving drowsy:
- Improve your sleep habits by ensuring you get enough sleep at night.
- Make consistent bedtimes so your body can adjust if you have to drive at night.
- Ensure the sleep you get is restful and high-quality, such as a quiet space and dark room.
- Avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine before bedtime and avoid alcohol before driving.
- If you struggle with chronic drowsiness, see a doctor – you could have a sleep disorder.
- Take public transportation or use a rideshare service.
Remember that the best decision when you are too tired to drive safely is to not get behind the wheel at all.
Injured in a Crash By a Drowsy Driver? PKSD is Ready to Help
All drivers owe a duty of care to take steps to prevent causing harm to themselves or others. This includes not driving while drowsy. People who get behind the wheel while tired put themselves at high risk for causing a crash. They are also violating the duty of care owed to others.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages.
At PKSD, we have a proven history of helping the injured throughout Wisconsin and beyond. We are deeply committed to helping our clients recover maximum compensation. Contact our law firm to schedule your initial consultation at no cost or risk to you.
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