On March 8, 2020, New Jersey residents must turn their clocks forward one hour. While you may be looking forward to an hour of extra daylight in the morning, you are probably dreading the initial loss of sleep you are apt to experience. You may not realize, though, that drowsy motorists may put your life in danger.
Studies have found an increase in the number of fatal car accidents in the week after the start of daylight-saving time. Put simply, if other drivers do not have sufficient sleep before climbing behind the wheel, you may sustain a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident. That is, drowsy driving may be as dangerous as drunk or distracted driving.
Fatigue-related car crashes
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports on three commonalities between many fatigue-related car crashes. First, these accidents typically occur after dark, with most happening between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Additionally, single-car accidents make up the majority of crashes involving drowsy drivers. Finally, fatigue-related accidents tend to occur in rural areas.
Many New Jersey motorists do not regularly get sufficient sleep. While a lack of good-quality rest is a common factor in fatigue-related crashes, other factors may be present, as well. For example, a driver may have a medical condition, such as sleep apnea. Similarly, if drivers do not heed warnings when taking certain types of medication, they may be too drowsy to drive effectively.
While you cannot control the actions of other drivers, you can take steps to avoid drowsy driving. Most significantly, you can watch for the signs of fatigue. If you notice them, you should stop driving until you rest. Furthermore, you should investigate whether you are at a higher risk of fatigue because of your medical conditions, medication or lifestyle. If you are, you must understand how to mitigate the risk.
Clearly, drowsy driving may put your life in jeopardy. You do not have to leave your safety to chance, though. By understanding fatigue-related crashes, you can better plan for staying safe on the road.