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Drowsy Driving & Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel

Sleepy young man rubs his eyes with his right hand. His left hand is on the steering wheel. He is sitting at his car. Road safety concept.

Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Everyone feels tired at some point in their day. While this is normal, it can be dangerous if you are feeling sleepy behind the wheel. You may feel tired after a long day of work or school, and if you have a newborn or work late at night, your sleep schedule is probably far from normal.

These facts of life can be fatal.

With this in mind, our New York traffic ticket lawyer discusses drowsy driving, something you may have experienced countless times in your life. By keeping the following information in mind, you may better avoid getting a ticket, into an accident, and worse, hurt or killed.

Who Is at Risk of Drowsy Driving?

While feeling fatigued at any point in the day can be unavoidable, the New York State DMV identifies various groups who are especially vulnerable to drowsy driving. They include:

  • Commercial drivers
  • Tour bus drivers
  • Public transit drivers
  • People who work long hours on late nights
  • People with sleep disorders
  • New parents
  • Caregivers of infants and young children
  • Young and never drivers
  • College and high school students

Warning Signs

How can you tell if you’re on the verge of driving while drowsy and subsequently falling asleep behind the wheel? How can the police tell if a driver may be a danger to themselves and others? Read the following warning signs below:

  • Repeated yawning
  • Struggling to keep your eyes open
  • Forgetting the last few miles driven
  • Tailgating
  • Missing traffic signals
  • Swerving or drifting between lanes

Fatigued Driving Statistics

How much of a threat is drowsy driving in the US? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) closely monitors the effects of fatigued driving because of its impacts on the road. It is an important topic because everyone feels tired at some point. It’s unavoidable. As such, the NHTSA closely researched drowsy driving and compiled the following data:

  • Drowsy driving crashes often occur between midnight and 6 am, or in the late afternoon, which may be caused because people experience drops in their circadian rhythm
  • These accidents often involve a single driver speeding off the road with no evidence of braking
  • Fatigued driving accidents typically occur on rural roads and highways
  • The NHTSA estimates that 91,000 police-reported crashes involved tired drivers in 2017, resulting in an estimated 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths

Statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) at the Rockefeller College and the University at Albany reveal that in 2018, “fatigue/drowsy driving” and/or “driver fell asleep” were listed 5,708 times on police crash reports in NY. Up to November 1, 2019, those factors were listed 3,512 times on NY police crash reports.

You Snooze, You Lose

The outcomes of fatigued driving may not only include a traffic ticket but also a crash. Speeding, swerving, tailgating, and other signs of drowsy driving can easily catch a police officer’s attention and prompt them to pull you over. To best avoid an unfavorable encounter with the police in addition to a car accident, consider the following tips:

  • Get adequate sleep before driving
  • Take a break every two hours or 100 miles
  • Invite a passenger to help keep you awake and take turns driving
  • Be aware of the side effects of medications you’re taking
  • Do not drink or do drugs before driving
  • Drink a coffee or another type of caffeinated beverage
  • Avoid driving during peak sleepiness hours (midnight to 6 am and late afternoon)

If you got a ticket, allow us to help you fight it. Contact us at (212) 235-1525 now!

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