It’s time to go but are you ready to go? Really ready? Or would a few hours more sleep or a good nap be a wise idea before getting behind the wheel of an automobile? Every day across the USA, 250,000 drivers are so tired they fall asleep at the wheel, according to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine. Has that ever happened to you?
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only Texas has more drowsy drivers than Hawaii, a finding presented in the January 4, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) (1). The MMWR, published weekly, offers a glimpse into the nation’s public health situation using data collected from medical and law enforcement entities across the country. In Texas, 6.1% of drivers fell asleep in 2009. Hawaiian drivers nodded off at a rate of 5.7%.
Texans will surely point to the state’s many long, flat, straight stretches of highway as a reason for so many Texas drivers falling asleep at the wheel but that’s not necessarily true and it’s not the case for Hawaii, either, where the state’s breathtaking mountain passes and gorgeous curves have made the state one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
Who are Hawaii’s drowsiest drivers?
- More likely male than female
- Older rather than younger, with the 45 to 54 year olds driving drowsiest
- Drivers who suffer with untreated sleep disorders
- Those taking medications that sedate, intentionally or as a side effect
- Those driving in mid-afternoon or at night
- Drivers who get an inadequate supply of sleep for any reason – parents of young children, late-night partiers, students cramming for exams, for example
- Employed people, especially
- Commercial drivers
- Those who work long or late shifts
“Your only job when you’re in the car is to get to your destination,” says Marie White, spokesperson for First Insurance Company of Hawaii. She stresses the importance of being fully present any time you are behind the wheel of a vehicle of any kind, further saying, “it’d be better for everyone.”
So, what do you do when you are driving and feel a drowsiness you can’t shake? The experts say common “reviving” tactics, such as turning on the air conditioner at full blast, cranking up the radio, or opening a window just don’t work.
The safest bet to prevent injuries related to drowsy driving? Get off the road until you are rested enough to drive safely.
If, in the unfortunate event you find yourself on the wrong side of a drowsy driver, Hawaii attorneys Davis Levin Livingston are here to help. Conveniently located in downtown Honolulu, this legal team has been named repeatedly to the “Best Lawyers in America.” Law partner Mark S. Davis was named “Lawyer of the Year” in 2009 by Honolulu Magazine, a distinction repeated by partner Mike Livingston in 2012. This highly acclaimed team of legal experts specializes in personal injury, including those caused in car accidents.