Ken Harrell, a South Carolina personal injury attorney with Joye Law Firm, cites a AAA study that revealed fatigued driving is much more common among motorists ages 16-24 than it is for drivers of all ages.

North Charleston, S.C. – South Carolina car accident lawyer Ken Harrell today urged young drivers to use caution behind the wheel after a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are much more likely to fall asleep while driving than are older drivers.

“Fatigued driving has long been a serious, yet under-reported, danger on the nation’s roadways. When you combine young, inexperienced drivers with the inherent dangers associated with driving while drowsy, you drastically increase the likelihood of a serious collision,” said Harrell, managing partner of Joye Law Firm.

The AAA study found that 1 in 7 young drivers admitted to nodding off behind the wheel in the past year compared to 1 in 10 of all licensed drivers.

As the holiday season approaches, thousands of young drivers will be driving home from college for winter break, many of whom will be coming off of a week-long session of late-night cramming for final exams. “Unfortunately, after decades of representing crash victims, I know what can happen when a motorist falls asleep behind the wheel. I urge young drivers to get plenty of sleep after finals before they head home,” Harrell said.

Other young drivers also face an increased risk of driving while fatigued this holiday season, with many teenagers and young adults taking long road trips to visit friends and family after working long hours or while on military leave, he said.

“Although the AAA study highlighted the propensity of young drivers to drive while drowsy, drivers of all ages should be aware of the signs associated with fatigued driving as we head into the holiday travel season,” Harrell said. “Most people admit to having driven while drowsy at some point in their life, yet people frequently miss the signs that they are too tired to be behind the wheel.”

In fact, a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) report indicates that 41 percent of all drivers said they have fallen asleep while driving at some point in their lives.

According to the NSF, the following are signs that you may be about to nod off behind the wheel:

  • Daydreaming, wandering or disconnected thoughts.
  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids.
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven.
  • Missing exits or traffic signs.
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble strip.
  • Feeling restless and irritable.

Over 90 percent of holiday traveling is done by car, meaning that millions of people of all ages will be on the roadways during the holiday season. “If you plan to travel by car this Christmas, implementing a plan to avoid driving drowsy could save your life and the lives of others on the roadway as well,” Harrell said.

Consider making the following tips part of your plan:

  • Get plenty of rest the night before you leave on your trip.
  • Share the driving responsibilities, if possible.
  • Stop and rest every 100 miles or every two hours.
  • Do not drink any alcohol the day you plan to drive.
  • Check all prescription and over-the-counter medications to ensure that drowsiness or sedation is not a known side-effect.
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage if necessary, but do not depend on this as a long-term solution to fatigue. Similarly, turning up the stereo or opening a window is not a good way to deal with drowsiness. Rest is the best answer.

“Fatigued driving is thought to be grossly under-reported as a contributing factor in collisions because of the inconsistent reporting practices among law enforcement agencies and the unreliability of self-reporting. There isn’t a simple test for fatigue like there is for drunk driving,” Harrell said. “The AAA survey, however, brings public awareness to the very real dangers associated with drowsy driving just in time for the busiest travel season of the year — hopefully in time to save lives.”

Harrell stressed that drivers who cause crashes because they drive despite being too tired could be held liable for their negligence. He encouraged anyone who is injured in a car accident that was caused by drowsy driving or any other reckless behavior to seek advice from an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer like the ones at Joye Law Firm.

About Joye Law Firm

Since 1968, Joye Law Firm has been fighting to help people throughout South Carolina with their legal challenges in a broad range of practice areas, including personal injury, car accidents, birth injury, brain injury, defective products, drug injury, motorcycle accidents, nursing home abuse, Social Security disability, spinal cord injury, traffic tickets, truck accidents, workers’ compensation and wrongful death. The South Carolina law firm has offices in Charleston, Clinton and Myrtle Beach and assists clients in areas that include Florence, Richland County, Orangeburg, Columbia, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville and the Horry County communities of Conway and North Myrtle Beach. The firm’s Charleston-area office is located at Northgate Office Building, 5861 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston, S.C. 29406 (local phone (888) 324-3100), and its Myrtle Beach office is located at 8703 Highway 17 Bypass, Unit H, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29575 (local phone (843) 215-3100). Contact Joye Law Firm by calling (888) 324-3100 or by filling out its online contact form.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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