Many drivers in New York and elsewhere head out on the road without getting the minimum seven hours of sleep that the CDC recommends. Others get behind the wheel after extended periods of wakefulness, yet the National Sleep Foundation has said that being awake for 24 hours is like being drunk with a BAC of .10.
Drowsy driving should be of concern to all drivers because it is behind 9.5% of car crashes, according to a 2018 AAA study. In fact, that percentage may be higher since drowsiness can be hard to detect (and easy to lie about) in the wake of a crash.
Besides getting adequate sleep, drivers may want to consider what medications they take. Antihistamines, antidepressants, anxiety drugs and other prescription and over-the-counter medications will induce drowsiness, so people may want to ask their doctor about adjusting the timing of their dosages. If individuals are drowsy even after a good night’s rest, they may have obstructive sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
Those who have no sleep disorders and do not take any medications will still become drowsy after hours and hours on the road. Therefore, for long trips, drivers are encouraged to bring a companion, take a break every two hours, take brief naps and drink 150 milligrams’ worth of caffeine (about 12 ounces of coffee).
People should be aware that if drowsiness leads them to crash, they will be to blame. Anyone who was injured at the hands of a drowsy driver may want to seek legal counsel as he or she may have a valid case under car accident law and be covered for losses like medical expenses, vehicle damage and lost wages. An attorney may hire medical experts to calculate the extent of injuries and the related costs and investigators to find proof of negligence.