Is your college kid at risk of drowsy driving?

Every Mississippi parent dreads the thought of their beloved children being involved in a car wreck. After your kid drives off to college, they’re responsible for making many choices on their own without you around to give them help, advice and caution. For many students, the college experience includes hundreds of late nights studying, working or partying. With so much activity, the odds are high that eventually your child — like so many other adults — might just get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they’re too tired to drive safely.

Know the risks

Drowsy driving is a huge problem in America. According to a study, approximately one out of every 25 adult drivers are estimated to have fallen asleep at the wheel during the past month. It’s also estimated that drowsy driving might be responsible for up to 6,000 deaths per year in the United States, in addition to more than 70,000 crashes and over 40,000 injuries.

Often, people drive while drowsy or otherwise impaired because they think they can keep their eyes open long enough to get to their destination, and that mistake can be costly. Nobody can tell exactly when they fall asleep, and so sleepiness can sneak up on any drowsy driver. If they doze off even for five seconds at highway speeds, during that time, their vehicle crosses the distance of a football field. Even if your child doesn’t completely fall asleep at the wheel, drowsiness can still dramatically impede their driving abilities, including limiting their attention to the road, slowing reaction time and affecting decision-making.

There are many contributing factors. If your college student hasn’t been sleeping enough, has an undiagnosed sleeping disorder like sleep apnea or has been drinking alcohol, using drugs or taking medications and decides to drive, they could be at great risk of an accident. Some warning signs of drowsy or otherwise impaired driving can include frequent blinking and yawning, lane drifting and hitting rumble strips, difficulty remembering, and missing turns and exits. If a driver feels any of these symptoms, they should stop and rest or let someone else drive. Merely cranking up the volume on their music and rolling down a window aren’t enough to keep a drowsy driver truly alert.

Being well-rested is the best prevention method. Most adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and teens are said to need eight hours or more. Having a consistent sleep schedule helps too — although that can be difficult in college.

Getting help in a worst-case scenario

If your college student was involved in an accident, it’s important to understand their rights. An accident resulting from impaired driving can be tragic and can also include criminal charges. Don’t let one night’s mistakes ruin their college career and future. An experienced attorney can help them navigate their legal options and get the fairest treatment under Mississippi law.