“100 deadliest days of summer” in Utah underway

Drowsy driving is one of the factors that make driving on Utah roads especially dangerous during the summer.

This summer, many people will take to the roads on vacations or day trips. Driving for long periods of time can increase the chance of getting into a drowsy driving crash. These accidents, however, can occur at any time of the day or year, regardless of how long one has been behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is a particular safety concern for Utah residents. According to Utah Zero Fatalities, 14 people lost their lives and 44 sustained serious injuries throughout 1,020 drowsy driving crashes in the state in 2012.

Authorities claim that fatigued driving carries the same risks as drunk driving, with the same type of reduced reflexes, reaction time and concentration that intoxicated drivers have. The National Sleep Foundation states that 60 percent of adult drivers surveyed claimed they drove while feeling drowsy during the past year. Out of these, 4 percent said they were in an accident or near accident because of being too fatigued to drive. Drowsy driving can be attributed to about 100,000 reported car crashes throughout the country every year, resulting in about 17,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities.

Important information about drowsy driving

Sleep experts say that the risk for a crash increases when tired drivers are on long, boring, high-speed roadways, particularly at night. Most accidents and near misses stemming from fatigued driving occur during the early hours of the morning after midnight and again from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, when most people's circadian rhythms cause them to feel sleepy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the people most likely to be involved in a drowsy driving collision are commercial truck drivers, people who take medications causing sleepiness, those with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders, people who work night shifts or people who regularly don't get enough sleep. There are several ways to avoid causing an accident by being too tired to drive, which include:

  • Not being rushed to get to a destination, but taking frequent breaks instead
  • Being cautious of feeling sluggish or sleepy after a nap
  • Traveling with a buddy who can switch turns driving or help keep the driver awake
  • Consuming caffeine in the equivalent of two cups of coffee

However, it is important to understand that caffeine and other measures are no substitute for getting adequate sleep. Even pulling over for a half hour nap can help a driver feel much more alert for hours. Also, taking precautions to avoid being too sleepy to drive will do nothing to prevent others on the road from causing a drowsy driving accident.

Utah authorities warn drivers to beware of "100 deadliest days of summer"

Fox 13 reports that the Utah Department of Transportation has named the period of late May through August the "100 deadliest days of summer" due to drowsy driving and other risk factors. Last May, a car traveling east on Interstate 80 in Utah was involved in an accident that investigators thought was because of drowsy driving. Witnesses said the vehicle was weaving in and out of lanes and driving below the speed limit before it drove off the road and rolled. The driver and front seat passenger were hospitalized in critical condition, while the back seat passenger received non-life-threatening injuries.

People who were injured by drowsy drivers and other negligent drivers have the right to pursue compensation for their injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help.

Keywords: drowsy, fatigue, driver, accident, injury