Drowsy driving is becoming increasingly problematic on roadways throughout Alabama and across the United States, and a new report is shining light on just how dangerous this preventable behavior can be. According to Forbes, one out of every five deadly motor vehicle accidents in American involves a drowsy driver, and the chances of causing this type of accident increase as a motorist’s hours spent asleep decrease.
While it is generally recommended that people get at least seven hours of sleep within a 24-hour timeframe, about 35 percent of American fail to do so. The report showed that while that seven-hour mark is ideal, those who sleep only five or six hours still fare better than those who sleep for less than four. So much so, in fact, that the risk of an accident increases a whopping 11.5 times for those who get less than four hours of sleep within that 24-hour period.
While falling asleep behind the wheel may prove a worst-case scenario, those who drive while fatigued face additional dangers, too. Part of the problem lies in the fact that many people do not promptly recognize the physical signs that indicate they are too tired to drive safely, such as heavy eyes. Failing to heed these physical warnings can affect reaction time and cause motorists to drift from one lane to another, among other highly dangerous actions.
In Alabama, those who get behind the wheel while fatigued may soon face stricter penalties, if some of the state’s law enforcement officials and safety advocates have their way. Recognizing the severity of the problem, authorities took part in Drowsy Driving Awareness Day last month to help spread the word about just how unsafe it is to drive without first getting sufficient sleep.