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Drowsy Driving in Florida

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. Even drugged driving has been getting more attention, with medication labels and commercials warning us to be aware of how our prescriptions will influence our driving abilities. Another danger we need to watch out for is drowsy driving. That may not seem severe at first glance. Who of us hasn’t gotten behind the wheel a little tired before? Students, parents, anyone who’s gone into work early or come home late—it seems like we’ve all driven while tired.

But driving while tired isn’t quite the same as drowsy driving. Extreme fatigue can be a serious detriment to your ability to drive, and can result in treacherous and tragic accidents. In fact, drowsy driving has been shown to be as dangerous as drunk driving, with drivers experiencing:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Lowered ability to make decisions
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired vision

And just like drunk driving, drowsy driving can be considered negligence. If someone is sleep-deprived and knows they’re tired before getting behind the wheel, they are therefore aware of their actions and capable of understanding the consequences.

While there’s no standard method for proving drowsiness, like how a breathalyzer is used to detect drunk driving, negligence can still be proven if you’ve been injured by a drowsy driver. The other driver owes you a duty of care to not drive while impaired, and drowsy driving breaches that duty. Even if proving drowsiness can be tricky, if you’ve been injured as a direct result of a fatigued driver losing control of their vehicle, you could be owed damages.

To help avoid becoming a victim of a drowsy driver, be on the lookout for:

  • Cars drifting in and out of their lane
  • Tailgating
  • Abrupt changes in speed (speeding up and slowing down erratically)
  • A vehicle hitting the shoulder or rumble strip

If you notice these warning signs from another car, pull to the side and let them pass. Stay alert and keep your distance. Consider this other driver unsafe, and do your best to keep your vehicle away from theirs.

If you’re worried about driving while drowsy yourself, take these precautions:

  • Be aware of what medications you’re on, and whether they make you tired or less lucid
  • Avoid driving during hours when you’d normally be asleep
  • If you have other people in the car, take turns driving so you can rest
  • On long trips, try to take a break every two hours to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and move around
  • Use caffeine to your advantage, grabbing a cup of coffee at a rest stop for a pick-me-up
  • If you start showing signs of fatigue (yawning, rapid blinking, trouble remembering the last few miles, restlessness or irritability), pull your car over as soon as possible, If needed, take a walk, or even a nap
  • Put your safety first, and don’t try to tough it out

Drowsy driving can cause serious, and sometimes fatal, car crashes. Be aware of the signs of drowsy driving, both in other drivers and yourself. By knowing the warning signs and being proactive in avoiding drowsy drivers, you can protect yourself from the pain and cost of a debilitating personal injury.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

Drowsy Driving in Florida

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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