This week marks National Sleep Awareness Week, reminding car accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm of the serious hazard fatigued drivers pose on the road. In a related survey, new moms were reported to be among the most distracted, and therefore dangerous, drivers in the nation.
The survey was conducted by magazine American Baby and Safe Kids Worldwide, which is a global network of organizations. The two teamed up and polled nearly 2,500 American mothers of children under two years old. These moms claimed they are more cautious while driving since having their child, however, their answers to the survey questions revealed that their habits are actually more similar to teenage drivers. Almost 10% of the moms reported that they had been in a crash while their child was in the car, which is nearly three times the rate of the average American.
Mothers drive more than the average American does, logging an estimated 150 miles on the road per week. An alarming 64% of these moms said they regularly turn around while driving to tend to their children, a practice that is incredibly dangerous not only to the mother and her child, but to fellow motorists and nearby pedestrians as well.
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In today’s society, it has become common practice to multi-task at all times, no matter how important the task at hand is. Drivers today are not focused on driving – they are applying makeup, talking or texting on the phone, smoking, eating, drinking, and yes, attending to their children. This type of multi-tasking leads to tragedy more often than drunk driving does. Nearly 80% of moms surveyed said they talk on the phone while driving, and more than 25% check e-mail or text.
This demonstrates that Americans, not only mothers, have not yet grasped that distracted driving is just as, if not more dangerous than drunken driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving is socially acceptable and even drivers who get in crashes and kill someone while texting do not suffer from the same social stigma as drunk drivers do.
The surveyed moms reported than they average 20 minutes to five hours of consecutive sleep per night, which is incredibly dangerous, as this little sleep impairs judgment, decreases awareness, and slows reaction times in similar ways alcohol does. The National Transportation Safety Board, in its investigation into fatal roadway crashes, concluded that lack of sleep and fatigue either caused or was a contributing factor in about 100,000 police-reported crashes per year. The agency reported that people under age 30 made up two-thirds of drowsy driving accidents, even though they account for only 25% of the driving population.
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Of course, mothers and those under 30 are not the only people who drive while drowsy. Those most at risk of partaking in the dangerous practice are large truck drivers, who often drive through the night without rest breaks. One study found that, in crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, such as semi-trucks, 13% of drivers were considered fatigued at the time of the crash.
Research shows that being awake for 18 hours without restorative sleep is comparable to having a blood-alcohol concentration of .08, which is considered legally intoxicated. Most new moms are severely lacking in sleep, and are exhausted most of the time, which poses immense danger on the road.
Part of the responsibility of being a new parent is changing your lifestyle so that your child grows up happy and healthy. This applies to driving habits as well. New parents should actively try to abbey all speed limits and traffic signs, never text or talk on the phone while driving, and pull over in a safe manner before turning around to tend to their child. This will not only prevent tragedies, but your child will learn these good habits from you as they grow up and eventually learn to drive themselves.
Car accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm hope that awareness of fatigued and distracted driving becomes more prevalent in American drivers. Accidents and consequent deaths and injuries caused by these practices are entirely preventable. If you or someone you love was seriously injured by a distracted or drowsy driver, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation.