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Recently while trying to kill some time before a social event, I played a game of Would You Rather with a group of friends. For those who may be unfamiliar with the game, participants are given two situations in which they have to decide which they’d rather do. For instance; would you rather have the ability to fly or would you rather be invisible. You have to decide which situations you’d rather have or do. Would you rather be 10 pounds lighter or 10% smarter? Sometimes the questions can get very specific and very difficult. For instance, would you rather spend an evening with the Kardashians in which you have to compliment them every six minutes, or spend 8 months in jail? There is no right answer to that question. However, I was asked a question during this game that was very difficult to answer. I believe my response was different than what most people would say. I was asked: would you rather be given an all new Dodge Challenger Hellcat with free insurance for life or be guaranteed a full nights rest every night for the remainder of your life. That was tough. It’s my dream car versus something I desperately need. I chose to be able to sleep easily the rest of my life.
Why would someone as materialistic as me choose sleep over the car I so desperately want? Truth be told, I have a reliable car already. While I’ll admit that an eleven-year-old Chevy Malibu isn’t going to be featured in the next Fast and Furious movie, it gets me where I need to be. Sleep is something that I rarely have. Full disclosure, if I get more than four hours of sleep per night, I consider myself lucky. I find that I am actually jealous of people who don’t have difficulty sleeping. I’ve tried medication before, but it either didn’t work, or it made me not function at all.
Some people might be asking why this is such an issue. Obviously, our bodies need sleep. That’s why we do it. But the lack of sleep is very unhealthy. WebMD States that lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight, become depressed, have impaired judgement, and possibly worst of all, and have bad skin.
If I were to do an informal poll in any group, most people would agree that driving while intoxicated is wrong. Alcohol impairs your judgement, delays your reaction time, and makes it difficult to concentrate. Lack of sleep impairs your judgement, delays your reaction time, and makes it difficult to concentrate. So, those two symptoms are the same, yet, a lot more people will drive a car with lack of sleep than they will while intoxicated. And of course, driving while intoxicated is illegal while driving while sleep deprived isn’t. Or is it? It actually depends on where you live. Take Arkansas for instance. This state Classifies “fatigued driving” as an offense under negligent homicide- punishable by a class A misdemeanor- when the driver involved in a fatal accident has been without sleep for 24 consecutive hours.
How bad is it? Well, it’s much worse than you may think. The CDC is currently attempting to make the public aware of the severity of the problem. They shared this statistic on their website: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.4 However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. In comparison, the CDC states that in 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. So, while the number of deaths relating to intoxication is much higher than that of drowsy drivers, it’s still a major issue on our roadways.
This issue impacts far more drivers than we realize also. The CDC website also states that more than 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. That number is staggering. In addition to individuals who have traditional sleep disorders, some people may be at risk if they are simply in a situation that is not traditional. Persons taking part in shiftwork, commercial/long haul drivers, and persons on road trips may experience issues with drowsy driving. Further, any person taking a new medication that causes drowsiness may be impacted too.
Like drunk driving before it, drowsy driving is easy to prevent. Follow these easy tips to prevent drowsy driving:
Overall, it’s really a difficult time to be a driver. In 2016, cars are much safe than before, but drivers are not. If you’re involved in an accident with a driver who was negligent because of a lack of sleep, the insurance may try to make things difficult for you. This is especially true if you have injuries as a result of the accident. Call us today for a fee consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather contact us after hours, fill out this form, and we’ll call you at a more convenient time.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law