Drowsy driving may be as dangerous as drunk driving, according to numerous studies. Thousands of people are injured or killed each year by sleepy drivers.
For many Americans, being sleep-deprived is an everyday part of life. This is not a healthy or safe habit for many reasons, driving being one of them. Thousands of accidents occur in California and across the country every year as a result of drowsy drivers. The problem may be more serious than people might think.
Just how prevalent is drowsy driving? According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of drivers who were asked said they had driven while sleepy at least once over the past year. Many admitted to driving sleepy on a regular basis, with 4 percent saying they had an accident or near miss because they had been too sleepy to drive safely. The foundation reports that there are about 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries each year in motor vehicle collisions caused by drowsy drivers.
New studies have sobering answers
Numerous studies have supported the claim that drowsy driving is too dangerous to ignore. An Australian study determined that drivers who had stayed awake for 18 hours had the same impairment behaviors as having a blood alcohol content of .05 percent. Being awake for 24 hours was like driving with a .10 percent blood alcohol content level.
Many people believe they can get by on six or seven hours of sleep each night. However, in a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers determined that those with less than seven hours of sleep the previous night were two times as likely to get into a crash as those who had more than eight hours of sleep. The risk increased four or five times for people who were asleep less than five hours.
Who are the ones most likely to be in a drowsy-driving crash?
Drivers who are most likely to get behind the wheel sleep-deprived, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include the following:
- Shift workers, particularly those who work overnight
- Commercial drivers who drive long distances
- People who use medications that cause sleepiness
- Those who have untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders
A recent accident in San Jose illustrated the point about commercial drivers. CBS News reported that this past January, a Greyhound bus operator who was driving his bus from Los Angeles to the Bay Area reportedly fell asleep behind the wheel. The bus flipped over on U.S. Highway 101, killing two passengers and injuring 18 others. Passengers told authorities the driver had fallen asleep, and the driver admitted that he had felt tired before the accident.
You may be eligible for compensation if the negligent actions of another driver resulted in your injuries. An experienced California personal injury attorney may be able to advise you on whether you have a case.