The Dangers of Drowsy DrivingMarch 20, 2019
Speeding, driving while distracted, and driving while intoxicated are well known as some of the most common causes of auto accidents. But sleep-deprivation—a condition that affects millions of Americans—may be just as dangerous as those behaviors.
Drowsy drivers experience many of the same symptoms as drivers who are intoxicated or impaired due to alcohol, drugs, or certain medications. Symptoms may include:
- Reduced attention span
- Slower reaction times
- Impaired judgment
Because drowsy driving is so dangerous, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts the number of hours truck drivers can be behind the wheel without time off to rest and sleep. But because there are no laws against drowsy driving for non-truck drivers, any of the estimated 70 million Americans who suffer from sleep deprivation may be drowsy at any given time behind the wheel.
How Big Is the Problem?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that around one in 25 adult drivers has fallen asleep behind the wheel in the previous 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving caused 72,000 accidents, 44,000 injuries, and anywhere from 800 to 6,000 auto accident-related deaths in 2013.
People with obstructive sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, and people who get fewer than six hours of sleep per night are most at risk for drowsy driving-related accidents. To reduce your risks, practice good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed earlier at night, avoiding alcohol and electronic device usage before sleeping, and waking up at the same time every day.
Injured by a Drowsy Driver? Get the Compensation You Deserve.
Ultimately, drivers are responsible for remaining alert, cautious, and safety-oriented when they’re behind the wheel. When they fail to do that and cause accidents, they can be held responsible for victims’ injuries and accident-related expenses.