Tips for avoiding drowsy driving in New Jersey

Drowsy driving in New Jersey poses a significant but preventable threat to people on the road.

Last year, drowsy driving was thrown into the national spotlight when comedian Tracy Morgan suffered serious injuries and another man died after a truck slammed into their limo van. According to the CBS News, a criminal complaint filed after the incident in New Jersey cited driver fatigue. Morgan reached an undisclosed settlement with Walmart, which operated the truck involved in the incident.

People in Mt. Laurel and across the country should be aware of the dangers of driving while exhausted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the behavior led to approximately 800 fatalities and 44,000 injuries in 2013. Below are some tips to prevent the phenomenon from happening.

Prior to a long drive

Than National Sleep Foundation states that before ever getting on the road, there are steps that drivers can take to ensure that fatigue will not be a factor and lead to a motor vehicle accident. For example, getting enough rest is key. The NSF reports that adults should sleep for seven to nine hours at night.

Other pre-trip recommendations are as follows:

  • Ask someone to be a passenger who can share driving responsibilities.
  • Avoid taking any sedating medications or drinking alcohol.
  • Schedule breaks for either every two hours or every 100 miles.

By working in time to get out of the vehicle, motorists can stretch their muscles, eat food and get a much-needed break from driving.

Use caffeine wisely

A cup of coffee can provide a much-needed energy boost during a long drive. However, people should be aware that the alertness is only temporary, and the NSF reports that it can take up to 30 minutes for caffeine to start working. Further, caffeine should not be a long-term solution for keeping someone awake. Drivers who are overly exhausted should rest instead of consuming more caffeine.

Know the warning signs

The warning signs of drowsy driving are an indication that action is necessary. Someone who is fatigued behind the wheel may realize that he or she has started to drift out of the driving lane or has difficulty focusing. Exhausted drivers often cannot remember the last few miles traveled, or they may have trouble keeping their heads raised. When these symptoms arise, drivers should immediately pull over to a safe area. The trip may need to be postponed so the person can get rest.

People who operate a vehicle while tired not only put themselves at risk, but they also endanger the lives of others on the road. As the Tracy Morgan case exemplifies, irresponsible drivers and other parties may be held financially responsible for the damages associated with a drowsy driving crash. People who have questions concerning matters such as this should consult with an attorney.