Most of us have driven drowsy before. An early morning drive or commuting home after a long, hard workday usually means that you will be driving when you are not feeling your best.
But is drowsy driving that dangerous? The answer is yes. In fact, according to one study, drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Additionally, the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety estimates that drowsy driving kills 6,400 people in the U.S. each year and approximately 100,000 accidents each year are caused mainly by drowsy driving.
North Carolina does not have any laws that prohibit drowsy driving, but you should still avoid it whenever possible since it can significantly increase your chance of a serious or deadly accident.
Staying awake and alert while driving
The best way to avoid drowsy driving is to stay off the road if you are too tired to drive. These signs are usually easy to spot. You may begin feeling sleepy, your eyes might become scratchy or you could even nod off while driving.
Veering off the road or into another lane are other signs that you are too tired to keep driving. Another common sign is daydreaming or having trouble remembering the last few miles that you drove.
When you find yourself in this situation, pull off the road to a safe place and take a quick 20-minute nap. Drinking caffeine will also help, but do not drink more than the equivalent of two cups of coffee or you can become overcaffeinated and experience another energy crash.
Before you get into your car to drive, ask yourself if you are too tired to drive. If you are, consider postponing your trip or asking someone else to drive.
Drowsy driving often occurs when you drive long distances. Make sure to take frequent rest breaks. Even a short break can provide you with enough energy to continue driving safely.
Watching out for other drowsy drivers
Other drowsy drivers on the road are a major risk to your safety. Constantly slowing down or speeding up, drifting into other lanes or tailgating are signs that another driver might be drowsy and not paying attention.
Drowsy driving is negligent driving. If you are the victim of an accident and feel that it was because the driver was too drowsy, you can recover compensation for your damages, including physical, mental and financial losses.
However, you must prove the other driver was negligent. This is challenging in North Carolina, which follows a contributory negligence standard. This means you are prohibited from recovering any compensation if any of your own negligence contributed to the accident.