August 22 – 26 Marks Drowsy Driving Awareness Week in Utah

Drowsy driving is a larger problem than most people realize.  In an effort to shine a spotlight on this major yet preventable cause of car accidents in Utah, the Department of Public Safety has designated August 22 through August 26 as Drowsy Driving Awareness Week.

Utah Drowsy Driving Statistics

According to a report from the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS), drowsy driving caused 1,041 auto accidents throughout the state in 2014.  Over the past decade, fatigued driving has claimed nearly 190 lives in Utah alone, though 2014 had the lowest number of fatalities dating at least as far back as 2005.  In 2014, approximately five lives were lost due to fatigued driving accidents, compared to approximately 45 in 2007, the worst year on record since 2005.

UTPI IMAGE BP DrowsyDrivingWeek2 - August 22 – 26 Marks Drowsy Driving Awareness Week in Utah

Source: Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office, 2014 Drowsy Driving Fact Sheet

Drowsy driving is most prevalent in Juab County and Grand County.  However, the DPS identified many counties where drowsy driving accounted for more than 5% of crashes, despite accounting for closer to 2% of car accidents when accounting for all crashes statewide.  These counties included:

  • Beaver County
  • Daggett County
  • Emery County
  • Garfield County
  • Grand County
  • Kane County
  • Millard County
  • Sevier County
  • Wayne County
UTPI IMAGE BP DrowsyDrivingWeek - August 22 – 26 Marks Drowsy Driving Awareness Week in Utah

Source: Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office, 2014 Drowsy Driving Fact Sheet

Many of these counties have small populations and large rural areas, which is a risk factor for drowsy driving accidents.  According to the DPS, accidents caused by fatigue are 2.6 times more likely to occur in rural settings, likely because urban environments are full of pedestrians, cyclists, flashing lights, honking horns, complicated intersections, and other features that tend to keep drivers on their toes.  On a long, calm, quiet, rural road with few of the stressors and hazards that are present in cities, it is easier to become sleepy or fall into a state of “highway hypnosis.”

Sadly, drowsy driving accidents are likely to result in wrongful death or personal injury when they occur.  According to the DPS, about 41% of car crashes caused by driver fatigue cause injury or death.

While everyone is at risk, males are nearly twice as likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes as females.  Other high-risk types of drivers include:

  • People aged 15 to 24. This age group accounts for 42% of drowsy driving crashes, more than any other demographic.  By comparison, people aged 35 or older accounted for 37% of accidents in this category, while drivers aged 25 to 34 accounted for just 21%.
  • People who work 60 hours or more per week. This group has a 40% increased chance of getting into an accident.
  • Having a child increases your risk of getting into a drowsy driving accident by 14%.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Getting into a Car Accident Caused by Driver Fatigue

Needless to say, getting plenty of sleep is the best and simplest way to reduce the risk of dozing off behind the wheel.  However, if you have to make a long drive, you can improve your safety by:

  • Bringing someone with you. You and the other person can take turns driving.  You’ll also have someone to keep an eye on you and avert a crisis if you do start falling asleep.
  • Scheduling regular breaks at rest stops. Try to pull over and rest every 100 miles, or every two hours.
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs. You should never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which is not only illegal, but also extremely unsafe.  Even legal drugs can be dangerous to drive with if they have sedating effects.  If you have never taken a prescription or over-the-counter medication before, get used to the side effects at home before you attempt a drive while using the medication.
  • Being aware of the warning signs. Did you know you can enter “microsleeps,” or periods of sleep that last for just a few seconds?  On a long drive, you may be slipping in and out of microsleeps without even realizing it.  If you ever notice yourself losing focus, jerking your head, or struggling to form simple thoughts while you are driving, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.

Utah Truck Accident Lawyers Handling Personal Injury Claims

Unfortunately, even if you are a very safe driver, there is no way to control what other drivers around you will do.  In particular, fatigued driving is a common safety problem in the trucking industry, where drivers are often pushed to complete long journeys with fast turnarounds.  As a result, some truckers exceed shift limits.  There is also a problem with drug use in the trucking industry, where some drivers abuse “uppers” like amphetamines or cocaine in order to stay alert artificially.

If you or one of your loved ones was hit by a fatigued driver or trucker, you may be able to get compensated for your injuries and expenses.  To talk about your claim with an experienced Utah truck accident lawyer in a free and confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143 today.  We have over 33 years of experience handling personal injury claims in Salt Lake City and other locations throughout the state.


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