Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior partner
November 8 marked the beginning of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a public awareness campaign by the National Sleep Foundation to educate drivers about sleep safety. In a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, alarming statistics indicate that the problem is much larger than previous estimates. Included among those statistics:
- "drowsy driving involves about one in six deadly crashes;
- one in eight crashes results in occupant hospitalization;
- one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed."
According to Anita Valaju Shelgikar, a clinical instructor in the University of Michigan Medical School's Department of Neurology, “The percentage of near-miss accidents due to drowsiness is likely an even greater problem. Dozing off for just a few seconds can be enough to cause a fatal crash. If you ever develop drowsiness while driving, it is best to pull over safely, lock the vehicle doors and take a nap. If there are other passengers with you, switch driving responsibilities with someone who is alert and able to drive.”
The National Sleep Foundation's 2009 Sleep in America revealed even more alarming statistics:
- "about one-third (28%) of Americans admitted they had fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past year,
- more than half (54%) said they had driven while drowsy,
- more than a quarter of surveyed adults admitted they drove despite being so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open in the previous month."
Be alert for the following warning signs that you may be driving drowsy:
- "difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids,
- difficulty keeping reveries or daydreams at bay,
- trouble keeping your head up,
- drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips,
- inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven,
- messing exits or traffic signs,
- yawning repeatedly,
- feeling restless, irritable, or aggressive."
Sleepiness can impair drivers with slower reaction times, vision impairments, lapses in judgment and delays in processing information. Studies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. Crashes caused by driving drowsy are preventable. Driving safely is a responsibility that cannot be overemphasized. In this age of too much activity for too little time, sleep frequently is the item that many sacrifice.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)-- national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.