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Time Change Tied to Increase in Drowsy Driving Crashes

If you’re feeling tired after turning the clocks back on March 13, you’re not alone. Losing just an hour of sleep at night can significantly disrupt your sleep cycle.

Not surprisingly, the switch to Daylight Saving Time is also associated with an uptick in drowsy driving accidents. The risk is so significant that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) recently issued a warning. “Many people have a hard time adjusting to the time change, and it can affect their driving,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “Even the most careful drivers become confused and use poor judgment when they are sleepy.”

In 2015, fatigued California drivers were involved in 5,447 collisions, 40 of which involved fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 100,000 fatigue-related accidents occur in the United States every year, resulting in an estimated 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries.

Many drivers don’t appreciate how dangerous drowsy driving can be. However, being awake for 18 hours straight is similar to having a blood alcohol content of .05 percent, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). After 24 hours awake, cognitive impairment is similar to a blood alcohol content of .10 percent, which is higher than the legal limit in the U.S.

Despite the risks, drowsy driving is extremely common. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently found that two out of every five drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point. Approximately one in ten drivers report they have done so in the past year.

To help our readers stay safe on the road, below are a few of the most common signs of drowsy driving:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious injury in a drowsy driving accident, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. After a serious crash, we can advocate on your behalf to help hold the negligent party accountable for their actions and seek the compensation you deserve.