Florida Highway Patrol troopers and rescue workers were amazed when a driver and his passengers survived a serious crash at a tollbooth on the Florida Turnpike recently. Early indications are that the driver fell asleep at the wheel and the vehicle plowed into some crash absorbers, narrowly missing a pay lane where a another vehicle was stopped. The story in the Miami Herald contains a video of the crash, but warns “the following video contains graphic content.”
How common are “asleep at the wheel” crashes? It’s difficult to ascertain whether a driver was nodding off before a crash because there are no medical tests to help, like there are for determining blood alcohol level. But a recent AAA study reveals that driver fatigue is a factor in 1 of 10 accidents, and the problem seems to be getting worse over time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of American drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night.
Summer is the traditional time for long trips in the car to reach various vacation spots, so it’s a great time to prepare for a common sense schedule of drive time, rest time, meal time, and sleep time. It’s a good idea to drive during the time you are usually awake so you aren’t knocking your body’s internal clock out of whack. If you normally sleep at night, then sleep at night during your trip. Arrange to take turns with another driver if possible, and drive in 2-3 hour segments before taking rests.
Many drivers have a tendency to “push it” until they reach the next destination, but don’t do it. The minute you feel sleepy get off the road and rest.
The National Sleep Foundation says these are warning signs that you are getting fatigued and you should stop driving:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eye lids.
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts.
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs.
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes.
- Trouble keeping your head up.
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip.
- Feeling restless and irritable.
We are experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys in south Florida for over 20 years and we have worked with many victims of sleep-related serious crashes. Please call us if you have been involved in any car, truck, or motorcycle accident and you’re not sure about what you can do to take care of your injuries and damages. We’re available all the time by calling 954-356-0006.
Have a safe summer!