Early Wednesday, May 8th, a 19 year-old driver was taken to an area hospital after falling asleep at the wheel and impacting a utility pole. The Harris County Sheriff’s office reported that the accident occurred on Jones Road near Tower Oaks around 3:15 a.m. After falling asleep while driving, the teen driver went off the road and struck the wooden utility pole which broke in half. Power, cable, internet and phone services were disconnected as a result of the accident, impacting a few thousand homes and a few businesses. Jones Road was closed for about an hour while utility crews worked to remove power lines from the road and restore utility service to customers. Harris County Sheriff’s Office confirms that the driver merely fell asleep and no alcohol was involved in the cause of the accident. The National Safety Council asserts that drowsiness has a number of physical side effects that can impair driving, including tunnel vision, shortened attention span and reduced reaction times. When a driver falls asleep at the wheel it can cause accidents and are far more dangerous than if the driver had been awake and aware. If you feel drowsy or feel as if you might fall asleep behind the wheel, take precautions immediately to insure that you get home safely without injuring yourself or other drivers. Find a safe place to pull over immediately. No matter if you drink a lot of coffee, turn up the radio, roll down the window, slap or pinch yourself in order to try to stay awake, none of these methods are a safe substitute to pulling over and getting adequate rest before attempting to get behind the wheel again. Some effective ways to insure that you reach your destination safely are pulling off the road and taking a nap until you are rested enough to drive again. Be sure to pull into a safe, well lit area and lock your car doors. You can call a family member or friend and ask them to pick you up, or call a cab or take public transportation to get to where you are going safely. The best insurance is to make sure you get an adequate amount of rest each night. The average adult requires anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Try to keep to a specific schedule of when you go to bed and when you get up every day in order to insure the proper amount of rest. If you have a hard time sleeping or require sleep during the daytime hours, make sure to have light blocking curtains, a sleep mask or even white noise via a white noise unit or window fan, for example to help you fall asleep. Adequate and uninterrupted sleep is essential for safety on the road and in the workplace. Here are some other suggestions:
- If you are driving a long distance, be sure to take breaks once every hour or 100 – 200 miles. Stretch your legs and get something to eat or drink if you need to. Try to limit your driving per day to a maximum of 300 – 400 miles at a time.
- Travel with a friend. Having a second driver along on a trip can provide both company to talk to or someone to relieve you when you become too tired to drive.
- Avoid taking allergy or cold medicine before driving. The ingredients in these medications can cause drowsiness.
- Try to avoid eating too many carbs. High carbohydrate foods can cause fatigue. Rather than reaching for high carb snacks, try to grab something high in protein instead.
- Don’t undertake a long trip after having worked all day. If you have spent eight hours at work, chances are you are not in any condition to make a long trip. Get at least five to six hours of sleep before hitting the road.
If you have been in an accident where you have fallen asleep behind the wheel, give our offices a call and speak with one of our attorneys. We can speak with you about the details of your case and give you suggestions and advice to help you.