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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

What Can You Do to Avoid Drowsy Driving Accidents in Iowa?

The effects of not getting enough sleep can be costly. Getting behind the wheel and feeling fatigued puts the driver at risk, as well as the passengers and other drivers on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 100,000 car accidents caused by drowsy driving get reported per year. Moreover, about 800 crashes result in death and 50,000 cause injuries.


Tired drivers can reduce the risk of drowsy driving crashes by taking care of their sleep health. The National Sleep Foundation advises adults to get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. When this is not possible, there are steps drivers can take to keep themselves safe.


What Is Drowsy Driving?

What Is Drowsy Driving?


Drowsy driving, or driver fatigue, is the combination of operating a motor vehicle while feeling tired. Drivers increase their chances of harmful or even fatal crashes when they get behind the wheel without proper rest.


Certain demographics and circumstances are more likely to be victims of drowsy driving and, therefore, should take extra precautions when controlling a vehicle. Drowsy drivers could develop within:

  • New or young drivers, including teens

  • The late afternoon, or between midnight and six in the morning

  • People who take medications that cause sleepiness

  • Commercial truck drivers

  • People who do not get enough sleep

  • People with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders

  • People who work long hours or at night


Drowsy driving that can lead to a car accident usually takes place when there is only a single driver (no passengers). Additionally, collisions frequently occur on rural roads where there is less lighting. Falling asleep at the wheel is more common with little lighting and noise.


Do Not Operate a Motor Vehicle with Certain Signs


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the warning signs of drowsy driving. As such, anyone experiencing the following should avoid operating a motor vehicle:

  • Yawning or frequent blinking

  • Lane drifting

  • Missing an exit

  • Hitting a rumble strip

  • Not remembering the last few miles of driving


These are all signs of a fatigued driver. The chances of motor vehicle crashes increase highly in these scenarios. Therefore, people should take the proper precautions to avoid hurting other drivers as well. Tom Fowler Law can answer questions such as, "What can you do to avoid Lyft and Uber accidents in Iowa?"


Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving


Car accidents caused by drowsy drivers are preventable. Fortunately, there are remedies to prevent them.


1. Get Plenty of Sleep


The best way to prevent driver fatigue and enhance traffic safety is to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. The National Institute of Health (NIH) also suggests that teens get eight to 10 hours per night.


When going on a long drive, whether for a trip or work, getting the proper amount of sleep is extremely critical. Therefore, drivers should plan ahead.


There are numerous health consequences of not getting sufficient sleep that stretch beyond drowsy driving and impaired cognition. The NIH also reports that sleep deficiency can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and depression.


Resultingly, sleep is crucial to bodily health, and while it can combat driver fatigue, it can lead to a better quality of life.


2. Avoid Drinking Alcohol


It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle surpassing the blood-alcohol limit. However, driving under the legal limit, alcohol still affects the body, which often leads to drowsiness or sleepiness. Drivers must avoid drinking any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.


3. Check Prescriptions


Medicines often cause fatigue or drowsiness. Those who feel the symptoms of a drowsy driver should check their prescriptions. If medications are a cause, then public transportation would be a safer alternative to operating a car to prevent drowsy driving crashes.


4. Avoid Driving During Common Sleeping Times


The human body's internal clock that regulates sleep is called the circadian rhythm. It plays a key role in sleepiness.


Between the hours of midnight and six in the morning, most bodies require sleep. Therefore, the number of drowsy driving crashes increases during these times.


Any licensed driver should refrain from driving during these hours. If that is not possible, they should always be alert for the CDC's warnings signs of drowsy driving.


5. Try Short-Term Solutions


Though the healthiest option is to get adequate hours of sleep, there are short-term solutions that can keep a driver from falling asleep and avert a car accident.


Drink Caffeine


Drinking coffee or an energy drink can make drivers feel more alert. Caffeine is not a full-proof remedy to becoming a drowsy driver, but it can help bypass some of the symptoms for a short amount of time.


Drivers should beware, though. Seriously fatigued drivers could experience lapses in consciousness that last for a few seconds, even after drinking caffeine.


Take a Short Nap


The second short-term alternative is to take a quick nap. Drivers should pull off the road to a safe place, usually a rest stop with plenty of light, to sleep for about 20 minutes.


Similar to caffeine, taking a quick nap can only take a positive effect for a little while. After that, a longer period of rest is necessary.


What to Do in the Event of an Accident

What to Do in the Event of an Accident


Even when drivers employ helpful tips to drive safely, it can be challenging to dodge other drivers who lose control from drowsy driving.


If an accident occurs, the parties involved should first assess their injuries. Emergency services should be contacted if there are serious injuries or even deaths resulting from the accident. Everyone must stay on the scene until instructed to leave by law enforcement or medical services.

If there are no injuries and minor damage, drivers can safely pull off the road and swap contact and insurance information. They also have the option to file a police report.


Contact a Trusted Lawyer


Fatigue takes a dangerous toll on the American public. As such, they should take the proper precautions to stay alert while driving a car. An auto accident lawyer can be contacted at Tom Fowler Law.


However, taking personal steps to enhance safety does not always mean other drivers do. If a victim finds themselves injured or suffering any vehicle damage from a car accident as a result of drowsy driving, they should receive the proper compensation.


When a case gets too complicated, contact the trusted lawyers of Des Moines, Iowa, at Tom Fowler Law.

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