A good night’s sleep does wonders for the body and the mind. It can lower your stress and improve your memory. And, during the holidays, when millions of Americans will hit the road for Christmas and New Year’s, it just might save your life. As a Memphis car accident lawyer, I want to tell you about the risks.

A drowsy driver can be just as dangerous behind the wheel as an intoxicated one.

By now, we’re all aware of the dangers of drunk driving, but drowsy driving is a crucial problem that deserves more attention. A person driving on less than five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period has the same risk of crashing as someone driving under the influence.

As is often the case with bad habits, there is a cognitive dissonance when it comes to sleep deprivation and driving: even those who recognize the issue perpetuate it. According to one study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 97% of drivers viewed drowsy driving as a serious safety hazard — but 1 in 3 of those surveyed admitted to driving on such little sleep that they could barely keep their eyes open at some point.

It’s no surprise that there are so many drowsy drivers on the road. In our fast-paced world, we often lack the time to unwind and take care of ourselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that 35% of drivers in the U.S. get less than the recommended amount of seven hours per night. The holidays are a perfect storm in this regard. Not only do we often rush around to finish our decorating or shopping, we also travel longer distances than usual.

Recent studies have found a correlation between each hour of sleep and your crash risk:
• 6-7 Hours: 1.3x the crash risk
• 5-6 Hours: 1.9x
• 4-5 Hours: 4.3x
• >4 Hours: 11.5x

Learn how to recognize signs of sleep deprivation, in yourself and others.

• Difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused
• Difficulty keeping your head up
• Disconnected thoughts
• Drifting outside of your lane
• Tailgating
• Frequent yawning
• Driving past your intended exit

Tips from the experts for staying alert:

• Get at least 6 hours of sleep before a long trip. (More is better.)
• Travel at times you would be awake — reconsider driving straight through the night to get there earlier.
• Take a break every two hours or 100 miles.
• Nap at a rest stop if you feel yourself losing focus.
• Ride with someone else and trade driving duties.
• Avoid medications that cause drowsiness.

The bottom line: nothing is more important than your safety.

As I tell people tempted to use their cell phones while driving, nothing is so important that it can’t wait. And nothing matters more than your safety. If you are considering driving on little sleep to get to your destination early, as a Memphis car accident lawyer, I urge you to rethink those plans. It’s better to be late — but safe — than to risk it.

Contact the Memphis car accident lawyer TN trusts.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident, our Memphis car accident lawyers can help. Darrell Castle & Associates, PLLC is a law firm you can call on to fight for your rights. We will make every effort to bring you financial peace and right the wrongs of your injury accident. Contact us here or call (901) 327-2100 today.