Drivers need to sleep for at least seven hours each night to be safe on the road. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drivers who get one or two fewer hours of sleep within a 24-hour period almost double their risk of getting into an accident. For this reason, AAA has continually reminded people in New Jersey and across the US to readjust their sleep schedules when preparing to “spring forward” for daylight saving time.
The National Sleep Foundation considers drivers “unfit to operate a motor vehicle” if they have slept less than two hours in the past 24 hours. Even more dramatically, the AAA claims that drivers who sleep for less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to those of drunk drivers.
A AAA survey showed that 95 percent of people believe drowsy driving to be unacceptable behavior. However, the same survey ended with 3 in 10 respondents admitting that they drove at least one time in the previous month in such a drowsy state that they could hardly keep their eyes open.
Drivers are encouraged to be familiar with the warning signs of drowsiness. These include trouble keeping one’s eyes open, difficulty staying in one’s lane and the inability to remember the last few miles. Remedies for drowsiness like drinking coffee or rolling down the window are short term.
In the event that a drowsy driver causes a car accident, the liability of two parties will likely be determined. Victims who are deemed to be 50 percent or less at fault are eligible for damages under New Jersey’s comparative negligence rule. However, filing a claim against the other party’s auto insurance company is another matter, so victims may benefit from legal counsel. Personal injury attorneys normally have teams of investigators and medical experts who may help with a case.