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Young Drivers, Cell Phone Users More Likely to Doze Off Behind Wheel, Studies Show

Posted by copeland on November 5, 2013

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Got a teen driver in the house? And do you use your cell phone while driving? Looks like you both are prone to dozing off while driving, according to recent surveys by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Researchers found that one in seven licensed drivers ages 16-24 admitted to having nodded off at least once while driving in the past year as compared to one in ten of all licensed drivers who confessed to falling asleep during the same period. And, of motorists who say they regularly used their cell phones while driving over the past month 44 percent also reported driving while drowsy.

These figures are particularly troubling considering that one in six deadly car crashes involves a fatigued driver, say auto accident attorneys in Orlando. That makes drowsy driving one of the top causes of traffic crashes.

"Research shows that fatigue impairs safe driving, with many symptoms causing drivers to behave in ways similar to those who are intoxicated," said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet.

Among those similarities is drivers' inability, or refusal, to recognize the potential danger of their actions. While eight out of ten survey respondents said they view drowsy drivers as a serious threat to their own personal safety, 30 percent admitted to having driven despite being so tired that they struggled to keep their eyes open in the past 30 days.

In recognition of the National Sleep Foundation's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (November 12-18), AAA and Todd E. Copeland & Associates want to make sure you and your young drivers know how to recognize and avoid drowsy driving.

Realize that you're at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel if you:

  • Have trouble remembering the last miles driven or realize you've missed exits; 
  • Experience difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused; 
  • Find yourself yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly; 
  • Drift from your lane or off the road; 
  • Daydream or have disconnected thoughts.

To keep yourself alert while driving, make sure you:

  • Get plenty of sleep just before a long trip (AAA officials recommend at least seven hours); 
  • Avoid traveling at times that you'd normally be sleeping instead; 
  • Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles; 
  • Avoid heavy foods just before and while driving; 
  • Travel with a companion and take turns driving; 
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness.

If you or your dependents are injured by a drowsy driver's mistake, contact an experienced auto accident attorney with Orlando's Todd E. Copeland & Associates at 407-999-8995 in Orlando or 407-847-7277 in Kissimmee.