Holidays Can Lead to Drowsy Driving

Holidays Can Lead to Drowsy DrivingThe holidays can be challenging for a lot of people. There’s a lot to do in a very short amount of time, and we tend to stress ourselves out because of it. Unless you’re one of those people who finished their shopping in October (you know who you are), the chances are good that you’ll find yourself on the road a bit more often at a time when you’re getting less sleep than ever before.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 6,000 fatal accidents every year can be attributed to drowsy drivers. Even if you are one of the well-rested, other drivers with whom you share the road may not be. Today, we want to talk a bit about why there may be more fatigued drivers out there, and why your risk of a car accident may increase as a result.

Traveling increases during the holiday season

The holidays bring people together, meaning more people travel by car, bus, train, and plane. According to AAA, an estimated “112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home from December 23 to January 2. That’s an increase of 3.6 million people over last year and closing in on pre-pandemic numbers.”  This many additional vehicles on the road means the odds are good that at least someone is sleepy, if not outright asleep, behind the wheel.

Sales and gift gifting also put more people on the road. Everyone wants to take advantage of the best sales in town, which means rushing to the store. Many retailers have one or two-day sales for select items, and you cannot purchase them online. These in-store sales stress consumers and push them to get to the store before anyone else. Some people will even camp out to ensure they get the best choices. Shoppers who are driving late at night or early in the morning to hit those sales may be too tired to drive.

Commercial truck drivers may be encouraged to drive even when they’re tired

The holidays bring an increase in commercial trucks delivering goods to stores and consumers. Tractor trailers are on the highway for more hours than any other time of year. The rush should not cause drivers to avoid rest breaks, but trucking companies will often push drivers to the brink; some may even alter driver logs to avoid liability for forcing their drivers to work too many hours in a row. Commercial truck accidents are devastating, and when a trucker is tired, it has the same impact as when they are impaired by alcohol or drugs.

The weather itself can make you sleepy

Fewer sunlight hours from daylight savings can also lead to hazards on the road. Less sunlight can cause drowsiness even though you are getting the required number of sleeping hours. Drowsy driving is not always due to lack of sleep; sometimes, it is due to environmental changes. Our bodies react to darkness as a sign to wind down and get some rest. You cannot give in to your body’s needs when trying to accomplish several tasks, but you must. Truck drivers are also at a higher risk for drowsy driving because less sunlight means more nighttime driving.

Stress can cause fatigue

Ever get overwhelmed by your day and just want to take a nap? It’s a pretty common response, actually, even during non-holidays. And if you are juggling work, a family, planning for a holiday, and dealing with travel all at once, you’re likely experiencing increased stress. It can disrupt your sleep cycle, and over time that can compound. You can also feel emotionally exhausted, which in turn causes more stress, which then disrupts sleep – it can become a vicious cycle. Almost 40% of people experience holiday-related stress, and a big portion of them are now driving around on roads and highways, in parking lots, and around your community.

Tips to avoid drowsy driving this holiday season

One tip for driving safely during the holidays is to limit your driving time to daylight hours. Drunk driving is also more prevalent during the evening hours, and while you cannot control other drivers, you can try to avoid them.

This next tip is controversial because people want to spend more time with friends, but we suggest leaving early. Traffic has many ebbs and flows and becomes unpredictable during the holiday season. Your GPS can help you adjust but try to make a plan ahead of time. Map out different routes to your destination and give yourself extra time.

You can also opt for online shopping to avoid rushing to the store. Start early and have a game plan for the sales you want to take advantage of. When the deals go live, you can stay home in your pajamas and not risk your well-being. Do this whenever possible, and instead of losing sleep, you can get everything you need from the comfort of your bed.

Finally, if you are feeling stressed out and exhausted but you HAVE to travel, find another way to do it. Take a bus or a train or even a plane rather than drive for several hours. If you need to go somewhere local, call a rideshare or a cab. If the holiday celebration is over and it’s late at night, see if you can spend the night where you are, or find a local hotel. You are safer staying put when you’ve been up all day, eating big meals and drinking some adult beverages. As an added bonus, you’re modeling good behavior for your children when they’re finally old enough to drive themselves.

Drowsy driving is dangerous, and there is an overall increase in these accidents during the holiday season. When you’re in a drowsy driving accident, Biby Law Firm is here to help. Call our Tulsa car accident lawyers or submit our contact form for a free initial consultation today.