Author: Chris B. Cloude
With summer upon us, many of us will be heading to the highway for vacation. Ours trips may involve driving for several hours to reach our destinations. Unfortunately, many of us will be up late the night before packing or taking care of last minute preparations. However, we need to remember that we need proper rest and sleep to stay alert and operate a motor vehicle.
“Drowsy Driving” is a leading cause of car accidents in the United States. An article by CNN suggests that between 16% and 60% of all motor vehicle accidents involve sleep deprivation as a contributing factor. The CNN article also suggests that going without sleep for 17 to 18 hours can have the same effect as having a blood alcohol content of .05. As result of being deprived of the proper amount of sleep you have impaired judgment, impaired coordination, and longer reaction times.
If you do start to feel drowsy while driving, there are a few things you can do to help stay alert, but none of these are as helpful as just getting off the road and getting some sleep. But be careful where you pull off to rest if you are going to nap in your car. Some strategies to combat sleepiness are rolling a window down, turning up the air conditioning, playing the radio loudly, and if carrying a passenger, start a conversation or if possible pull over and switch drivers. As soon as it is safe to do so, stop and take a nap. Most researchers agree that a twenty minute nap will help you stay alert. A nap of less than twenty minutes may not be effective and a nap of more than twenty minutes may actually make you feel more tired.
The best solution, obviously, is to get the proper rest and sleep before going on the road. Plan your route in advance and be sure you know where you are going. Stay alert and arrive alive. As they say, the life you save may be your own.
About the Author: Chris Cloude is a claims consultant with the Fredericksburg injury attorneys of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. Chris works with Fredericksburg car accident attorney Edward Allen to assist clients with their car accident injury claims.
 See “Sleep deprivation as bad as alcohol impairment, study suggests”, CNN article, Sept. 20, 2009, at http://articles.cnn.com/2000-09-20/health/sleep.deprivation_1_sleep-deprivation-impairment-researchers?_s=PM:HEALTH.  If you are sleepy and need to rest, be careful where you pull off to rest. Basketball great Michael Jordan’s father was apparently robbed and murdered when he pulled off the side of a road to rest and was found sleeping in his car. See story at “Police Say 2 Teens Killed Jordan’s Dad”, Orlando Sentinel, August 16, 1993, at http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1993-08-16/news/9308160198_1_jordan-demery-stone.  See, for example, the article “How to Power Nap” at http://www.wikihow.com/Power-Nap.