Colorado Motorists: Don’t Get Behind The Wheel When Drowsy

When people must drive for long distances, it should come as no surprise that they will likely feel drowsy at some point during their trip. Unfortunately, a common response when people feel fatigued behind the wheel is to attempt to wake themselves up and continue driving. Many of the techniques people employ - such as turning up the radio or eating - are not helpful.

Sadly, many people do not appreciate the danger they pose when they continue to operate a motor vehicle while drowsy. Federal data indicates that over 11,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by fatigued drivers during the period from 2000 to 2010. In 2009 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that around 730 people died and another 30,000 sustained personal injuries in such collisions.

AAA Colorado finds age a factor in drowsy driving

According to AAA Colorado, drivers between the ages of 16 to 24 are more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by drowsy driving than older drivers. In a survey conducted for young drivers, one out of every seven questioned reported that they had drifted off on at least one occasion during the prior 12 months while behind the wheel. In comparison, one out of every 10 drivers from all age groups admitted they had fallen asleep while driving in the past year.

AAA Foundation researchers have found similar results when examining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2010, it was determined that motorists between the ages of 16 to 24 were 78 percent more likely to be fatigued at the time of an auto accident than drivers between the ages of 40 and 59.

Take action to prevent a dangerous drowsy driving accident

Due to the dangers of such accidents, it is critical for motorists to be aware of the signs of fatigue when behind the wheel. For instance, if the driver is often yawning and is having trouble keeping his or her eyes open, it is probably wise to pull over. In addition, drifting out of the traffic lane and having difficulty remembering the last few miles driven are signs that the motorist may not be able to safely operate the vehicle.

In such cases, the best course of action is to pull over, either to allow the motorist to get some sleep or to switch drivers. Individuals who know they will have to drive a long distance should always attempt to sleep for at least seven hours the prior night. In addition, it is wise to stop driving during the hours in which you would typically be asleep. Motorists should also consider taking a break about every two hours during the trip.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drowsy driver, seeking the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney is a wise step.