Avoid Drowsy Driving This Holiday Season
With the holiday season in full swing, drivers across New Mexico are taking to the roads to visit family and friends in far away towns. Often this means driving long hours, sometimes hitting the road right after a full day of work when they are already tired. Not to mention the family meals and holiday parties themselves which often involve drinking and eating too much, after which, drowsy drivers get back into their vehicles only to hit the roads again.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. It comes as no surprise then that a significant portion of these fatalities occurs during the holiday season. So how can you stay safe this holiday season and get where you need to go without endangering yourself or others?
What Can You Do To Avoid Drowsy Driving?
Traveling down long monotonous highways for hours on end can make anyone feel drowsy, but these tips may help;
- The night before your road trip, make sure to get eight hours of sleep. Even if you are used to functioning on less sleep, doctors report that sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making and that insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.
- Travel with a companion. Not only will a road trip buddy keep you awake, but they can also keep an eye on you for signs of sleepiness and can take over driving if you begin to get drowsy
- Take a break. Stretch your legs and your back, get some fresh air, maybe even consider a minute or two of light exercise. Changing up the pace by taking a break every couple of hours or every 100 miles can go a long way toward keeping you refreshed and alert.
What If I Notice A Drowsy Driver On The Road?
If you are a passenger in a vehicle and notice that your driver seems drowsy (heavy eyes, straying from the lane, etc.) you should speak up and either ask them to pull over and rest, or offer to take over driving for a while.
If you notice another vehicle on the road that seems to be straying out of its lane, or if you happen to see the driver of that vehicle closing their eyes, keep a safe distance from them and when safe, pull over and call 9-1-1 to report the driver. It is better for them to get a ticket than to get into an accident that could result in fatalities.
What If I Have to Drive While Tired? Is That Illegal?
We would hope that you never feel like you have to drive while tired. Deciding to get a good nights sleep after work and leave first thing in the morning, rather than leaving after work and driving all night, may get you there a day later than you had planned, but it’s better to arrive in one piece than to never arrive at all.
As for whether drowsy driving is illegal, Maggie’s Law states that a sleep-deprived driver qualifies as a reckless driver who can be convicted of vehicular homicide. Maggie’s Law defines fatigue as being without sleep for more than 24 consecutive hours and makes driving while fatigued a criminal offense. For your own safety and that of other drivers, never hit the road after pulling an all-nighter.
If you’ve had a poor night’s sleep for whatever reason and must drive the next day, try to get in a nap before beginning your drive. While sleep debt is cumulative, a nap may partially make up for it.
If you find yourself drowsy while driving, or even worse, beginning to doze off at the wheel, pull off the road in a safe place, preferably at a rest stop or in a parking lot, and take a short nap of 20 minutes or so.
Of course, the best case scenario is to be able to plan accordingly, take the time that you need to drive during the day after a good nights sleep, bring along a travel companion, and arrive safely at your destination.
We at Ron Bell Injury Lawyers wish all our readers happy and safe travels this holiday season.