Some people in Tennessee may not realize that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Car accidents caused by drowsy drivers can be as catastrophic as those caused by impaired drivers. When your body needs sleep, your brain will shut it down, and you will have no control over it, similar to the lack of control drunk drivers have.

Your body functions according to circadian rhythms — meaning a 24-hour cycle. It wants to sleep when it is dark and also around midday — siesta time. Circadian rhythms include daily hormonal cycles, alertness and body temperatures. It also tells your brain when to force the body to rest.

Telltale signs of drowsiness

You should avoid drowsy driving at all times. As soon as you notice any of the following symptoms, it will be safer for you and other motorists if you pull over where it is safe and rest a while:

  • You find yourself following other vehicles too closely.
  • You struggle to focus on the road because your mind wanders.
  • You cannot stop yourself from yawning.
  • You miss a turn because you are too drowsy to notice road signs.
  • You drove some distance without remembering a thing about it.
  • You find it difficult to keep your eyes open and your head up and find yourself nodding off.
  • You let your vehicle drift across lanes or onto the road’s shoulder.

Who are vulnerable?

Drowsy driving is much more common than you might think. While most people know that their bodies need seven to eight hours sleep in every 24-hour cycle, many pay little attention to the need for adequate sleep. The following circumstances might cause drowsy-driving crashes:

  • Cumulative Sleep Deprivation: Many nights of inadequate sleep builds up a sleep debt called cumulative sleep deprivation. It can cause dozing off in any situation.
  • One-time Sleep Deprivation: Staying up with a child who is sick, working a double shift or studying through the night for a test severely limits your ability to drive safely. Chances of causing a crash after being awake for over 15 hours are high.
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep DisorderForcing your body to adapt to abnormal rhythms can cause this disorder. Working shifts or crossing several time zones during international travels can confuse your internal body clock.
  • Sleep Disorders: You will be at a higher risk if you have an untreated sleep disorder that causes drowsiness during the day. Examples include narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Combining alcohol and a lack of sleep can have devastating consequences. Studies show that one beer has the same effect on a drowsy person as six beers have on someone who is well-rested.
  • OTC and prescription medicines: Many medications can cause drowsiness even if you are well-rested. You should heed warnings on labels of muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, anti-histamines and anti-depressants along with sleeping pills and medications to treat colds, coughs and high blood pressure.

Have you fallen victim to a drowsy driver?

If you suffer the consequences of a crash caused by a drowsy driver, you can seek recovery of damages through the Tennessee civil justice system. However, it is always a challenge to prove that the other driver was drowsy. For this reason, many victims choose to utilize the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney to navigate the legal proceedings in pursuit of financial relief.