A driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into a Chase Bank located on the northwest side of town on Friday. According to the Houston police at the scene, the driver, 33, crashed his SUV into the bank just before 6:00 a.m., causing extensive damage to the building. The driver also managed to crash his vehicle into a fire hydrant, causing water to shoot into the air. The unidentified driver was sent to the hospital and is listed in stable condition. The manager at the banks said that the branch would not be open for business Friday. Getting behind the wheel and driving when you are tired is never a good idea. Sleep deprived drivers are far more likely to get into an accident than those drivers who are awake and aware. In a recent CNN report, according to a recent set of findings in the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers in Australia and New Zealand found that sleep deprivation behind the wheel can be just as deadly and dangerous as someone driving under the influence of alcohol. They further stated that people who drove after being awake for between 17 and 19 hours were less responsive behind the wheel, than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent. This is not very far away from the legal limit of intoxication in most states in the U.S. of .08 percent; however, it is over that of the U.S. Federal legal limit for all holders of commercial driver’s licenses of .04 percent. The National Safety Council also confirms that drowsiness had several side effects that can impair driving, including tunnel vision, shortened attention span and reduced reaction times. Ways to Avoid a Sleep Deprivation Related Accident: Whenever you are feeling drowsy or feel as if you may fall asleep behind the wheel, immediately take precautions to insure that you get home safely without injuring yourself or others. The easiest solution is to find a safe place to pull over immediately. Even 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 as effective as simply pulling over and getting an adequate amount of rest before getting back behind the wheel. One way to help you stay safe is to pull off the road and take a nap until you are rested enough to attempt driving again. Always try to pull into a safe, well lit area and be sure to lock your car doors. Another way to make sure you don’t get into a potential accident is to call a family member or friend and ask them to pick you up, or to call a cab or take public transportation in order to get to your destination safely. Of course, the best way to insure you are not driving tired is to get enough hours of sleep each night. The average adult requires anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep every night. It is best to keep to a specific schedule when going to bed and when you get up each day. This insures that you get just the right amount of rest. If you need to sleep during the day or have a hard time falling asleep, having light blocking curtains, using a sleep mask or even turning on some sort of white noise with a device for that purpose, or even turning on a window fan can help you to get to sleep. When driving over very long distances, keep an eye on the time. Take breaks once every hour or at a 100 – 200 mile interval. During your break, get something to eat or drink, stretch your limbs and don’t head out on the road again until you shake some of the kinks out. If you can allow yourself enough time to reach your destination by limiting yourself to a maximum amount of distance traveled between 300 to 400 miles. Being burnt out can cause slower reaction times and also be a cause of accidents. If you travel with a friend or family member this can also help keep you safe. If that person can serve as a second driver for the trip, they not only provide another person to talk to, but can also help relieve you of some of the driving over the long haul. Avoid taking allergy or cold medicine before driving. The ingredients in these medications can cause drowsiness. Also, when dining on the road, be careful not to consume too many carbohydrates. Consuming foods high in carbohydrates can make you drowsy and can cause fatigue. High protein snacks are a much better choice when you are on the road. If you have spent the last eight hours of your day at work, you are most likely not in any condition to set out on a long road trip immediately afterward. Delay setting out enough so that you get at least between five and six hours of sleep. Traveling refreshed make the trip seems a lot easier. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a sleep deprived driver, give our offices a call. We can help you sort through the legal challenges that can arise such as damages, medical costs, rehabilitative care, pain and suffering. When you call, we will match you with one of our experienced attorneys. They will sit down with you and go over the details of your case and can offer you suggestions and advice about the best way to proceed. Your initial consultation with our legal professionals is free.