The thought of drinking and driving might never enter your mind – maybe even the idea of talking on your cell phone while traveling is beyond your nature. These actions are clearly negligent, leading to untold physical and emotional damage and millions of dollars in litigation and compensation every year. Thankfully, most drivers do their best to avoid these reckless situations. At the least, we all know how dangerous they can be. There is a type of driving, however, that can be just as deadly – but people tend to take it less seriously than they should.

Types of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a broad term that covers everything from texting a friend or changing the radio station to staring at the clouds as you travel. Here are a few other examples:

  • Talking on or using a cell phone
  • Reaching down to pick up something off the floor
  • Eating or drinking in the car
  • Driving while drowsy

The last item on this list is one of the most dangerous things a person can do on the road. Drowsy driving, though, is a peculiar problem; it does not carry the same stigma as these other behaviors. In a rush to get to work or make a delivery deadline, thousands of people turn on their cars every day without proper rest. Such a decision puts countless lives in danger: fatigued drivers were responsible for nearly 850 fatal accidents in 2014.

The Truth About Drowsy Driving

Despite this loss of life, in a 2005 poll, 168 million people admitted to driving drowsy – and 103 million confessed to actually falling asleep. This behavior affects a driver in numerous ways, including:

  • Stress
  • Poor driving performance
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired judgment
  • Diminished situational awareness

These issues can lead to catastrophic highway accidents or car accidents on suburban streets. Specifically, 21% of fatal crashes from 2009 to 2013 were attributed to a drowsy driver. In cases such as this, a drowsy driver will often be found negligent; though there is not a measure like a breathalyzer or blood test to see how tired a person is, the behavior is certainly prohibited and has been punitively punished. These cases have involved incarcerating the responsible drivers and awarding millions of dollars to the victims of such collisions.

Rest and Rejuvenate Before Driving

Sometimes, shift workers or those who are up early in the morning or late simply cannot find the time for a full night’s sleep. Those who rest more than eight hours, however, are far less likely to contribute to a car accident. If you are driving for a long haul, pull over on the side of the road or stop at a hotel when you feel drowsy. Otherwise, try a 10- or 15-minute power nap before leaving. Here are a few other ways you can stay alert on the road:

  • Drink water and not too much coffee. Coffee is a diuretic, and while a cup in the morning is fantastic (and essential to getting many of us out of the bed), too much dehydrates and ultimately exhausts the body. This “crash” will leave your eyes aching for sleep in the middle of a trip.
  • Eat healthy similar to our caffeine problem, greasy food does not give your body the nourishment it needs. Try healthy snacks, like almonds and sunflower seeds, which provide excellent energy and keep you alert while traveling.

Seek Compensation for Your Damages

You can do all you can to stay awake and alert on the road, but sometimes, an accident is completely out of your control. In such cases, it is best to contact an attorney. These professionals can review your case, and the right team will fight for your rights and represent you before a judge if needed. When a driver’s negligence leaves you hospitalized or without a car, this is the surest way to receive fair compensation. Contact the team at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC for a free consultation today. Our West Virginia personal injury lawyers will ensure your rights are protected.