The first week of November is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
It is the National Sleep Foundation’s way of bringing awareness to the public about the importance of sleep – and how a severe lack of sleep puts you at higher risk for accidents.
Even if you get the recommended seven to eight hours each night, how restful are those hours of sleep? Instead of putting off better rest until you have time to focus on it, consider these five reasons you should work toward better sleep each night.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Sleep is vital for your health and well-being. It makes you live longer, lose weight, and avoid premature dementia. The amount of sleep you need each night depends on age. Per the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), older adults (over 65 years) should get 7 to 8 hours each night, while adults (18 to 64 years) should aim for 7 to 9 hours per night.
Have a teen driver in the house? Then make sure your teen gets at least 8 to 10 hours each night (ages 16 to 17).
Reason One: Sleep Makes You Sharper
Your attention to detail and overall alertness are increased with sleep. When you short yourself on sleep, you age your brain by four to seven years – according to a study in London. In fact, middle-aged women that slept less than six hours each night had memory and reasoning scores more akin to that of elderly women.
When your memory and reasoning faculties diminish, you are less able to focus on the road, or react quickly in emergency situations.
Reason Two: You Make Better Driving Decisions
When you get enough sleep each night, you will make better decisions on the road. Judgment is significantly impaired when people do not get enough sleep.
Reason Three: You are Less Likely to Drive Aggressively
Poor sleep makes you restless, impatient, and irritable. When you are driving in rush-hour traffic, you are more likely to become aggressive, irritated with other motorists, and make poor decisions.
The state of New York recognized how sleep affects aggravated driving, which is why they are currently introducing a new criminal offense known as aggravated driving while impaired by fatigue. If you live in New York, you could be charged with a misdemeanor for aggressively driving due to fatigue. While Washington does not have such laws, New York’s reaction proves there is a direct correlation between lack of sleep and aggressive driving behaviors.
Reason Four: You Get Lost More
Driving in a new area? Do you have to take a detour? If you do not get enough sleep your memory will suffer, and it will be more difficult to retain information. You might notice that at times you cannot remember the last few miles driven, or you may forget where you are going.
Reason Five: Drowsy Driving is Negligent Driving
If you cause a motor vehicle accident because of fatigued driving, you will be liable for any property damage and injuries. Drowsy driving is a type of negligence, which means you could be sued by the injured party – all because you skipped a few hours of sleep the night before.
Injured by a Drowsy Driver? You Need an Attorney
Unfortunately, 1 out of 3 adults does not get enough sleep each night. With that high of a percentage of drowsy drivers potentially on the road, the risk of an accident is high.
If you are injured in an accident with a drowsy driver, you have the right to hold that driver accountable, and the law allows you to collect compensation for your injuries.