We are accustomed to hearing how hard the average American works, as well as how many people are sleep deprived on a regular basis. However, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts into context the dangers of drowsy driving (drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel).
Of more than 147,000 people interviewed in the study, only two percent reported falling asleep while driving, which leads to one in 24 drivers dozing off while driving. While two percent may seem like an insignificant figure, consider the effects that fatigue has on decision-making while behind the wheel. Researchers explained that driver fatigue could limit a driver's reaction time and decision making ability, much like alcohol impairs motor functions. This loss of capacity could be the difference between avoiding (and being a victim in) a fatal accident.
Moreover, the concept of "microsleep" has not been explored on a large scale, but studies suggest that tired drivers may experience such episodes without even knowing it. One participant in such a study was observed to have briefly fallen asleep 26 times during the study, while he only remembered two instances.
The prevailing opinion is that people should avoid driving while drowsy. More importantly, they should take extreme caution when the warning signals arise. They include excessive yawning, missing exits and trouble concentrating. If this happens, the best thing to do is to get off the road and rest. This exemplifies the legal duty for drivers to use reasonable care while behind the wheel.
Please contact Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma for more information on driving offenses by visiting our website at WWGRLAW.com or calling 908-454-3200.