Tired driving crashes cause thousands of deaths and injuries every year. As many as one in 25 drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. The actual figure is probably considerably higher.

Sleep deprivation is the most significant cause of fatigued driving but it can also be caused by prescribed medications, drinking alcohol, shift work or untreated sleep disorders, states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tired driving crashes cause about 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatigue is linked to about 72,000 wrecks a year.

Other studies link tired driving to as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year. The AAA published in-depth research in 2018. The researchers studied video of drivers’ faces in the three minutes before a crash. The research team found about 9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of wrecks causing significant property damage involved sleepiness. The figure was greater than federal estimates that link drowsiness to just one to two percent of crashes.

You can never eliminate the risk of falling asleep at the wheel but you should be aware of the signs and take action to avoid tired driving crashes.

Seven Ways of Avoiding Tired Driving Crashes in Georgia

1 Know the signs;

Drivers must be able to recognize the signs of sleepiness before taking action. They include problems focusing, blinking frequently, or heavy eyelids. Wandering and disconnected thoughts or hitting rumble strips after veering across the road are another sign.

2 Take a Pre-Drive Nap

If you had little sleep the night before and are setting out on a long trip, consider taking a pre-drive nap.

3 Set out early

Drivers setting out on a long trip should plan carefully. Good organization, knowing your route, and getting an early start can ensure you are more alert. Tired driving accidents are more likely to occur after long hours on the road when it’s dark.

4 Make frequent stops

Stopping every two or three hours is more likely to prevent you from drifting into drowsy driving. Walk around briskly or drink coffee.

5 Drink caffeine

Coffee or other drinks containing caffeine will help keep you awake. If you are falling asleep at the wheel, coffee can revive you but the effects are usually brief. Aim to consume a few cups of coffee early in your trip.

6 Switch Drivers

If you have an adult passenger, switch drivers at regular intervals of two hours or so. You can take a nap when the other driver is at the wheel and take over again later.

7 Don’t Drive in the Early Hours

According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans have an internal circadian biological clock. The circadian rhythm rises and falls at different times of the day. We are most likely to want to sleep between 2 and 4 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the afternoon. You are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel when driving between midnight and 6 a.m. Often truckers who cause crashes are involved in tired driving crashes at this time. Although the industry has rules to prevent tired driving, these are often flouted.

If you or a family member has been hurt in a tired driving crash in Georgia, please contact the Law Office of Michael West as soon as possible at (404) 913-1529.