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The risks of drowsy driving are greater than we think

Laredo auto accident attorneyBelieve it or not, losing a few hours of sleep can impact drivers the same way alcohol or drugs do. Drowsy driving often causes delays in reaction time, poor attentiveness, and impairments in decision-making skills — even when drivers are still awake.

Drowsy driving is becoming a growing threat to public safety in Laredo and across the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in 91,000 crashes, 800 deaths, and 50,000 injuries each year.

These numbers, however, may not be accurately represented by federal statistics — which claim that drowsy driving is a factor in 1-2 percent of all crashes. The challenge of tracking drowsy driving incidents lies in the lack of physical evidence and the inability of police to determine if someone fell asleep behind the wheel.

A 2018 AAA study, however, found that drowsy driving was a factor in about 10 percent of all crashes by capturing eye closure with in-vehicle dash cams.

Who is the most at risk of falling asleep?

Drowsy driving can impact anyone who loses a few hours of sleep on any given night. Anyone can get tired enough to doze off when driving late at night or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For certain people, however, the risk of drowsy driving is more routine. Risk factors often include:

  • Being under 25 years old: The National Safety Council says drivers under age 25 account for roughly 50 percent of all drowsy driving crashes.
  • Having an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder: Sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome (RLS), and narcolepsy can be dangerous for drivers if untreated.
  • Working late night or rotating shifts: Working overnight or rotating shifts can disrupt the body's biological clock (circadian rhythm), which can contribute to the likelihood of a drowsy driving crash.
  • Being a commercial truck driver: The federal hours-of-service regulations may help prevent truck crashes caused by drowsy driving. Losing a few hours of sleep and being on the road for up to 11 hours per day is a recipe for disaster.
  • Traveling for business: People who travel for business often cross into different time zones. This can cause jet leg and can be particularly dangerous when driving.
  • Having young children: New parents often don't get enough sleep due to waking up frequently to feed or care for a newborn child.

The authors of a Sleep Review Mag article seek to educate the public on the dangers of drowsy driving. In partnership with the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, they launched and a social media campaign to encourage people to take a sleepiness quiz to determine their likelihood of being involved in a drowsy driving crash.

What can I do if I was involved in a drowsy driving crash?

In the event that you're injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver, it's critical that you first seek immediate medical attention, even if you feel OK. You should then consult with an experienced Laredo car accident attorney as soon as possible. Even if there is no evidence that the driver who caused your crash was drowsy, an investigation can show that you were 100 percent not at fault.

Attorney John R. Solis knows how to handle drowsy driving crashes and get results. He can help you build a strong claim and recover damages owed to you, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Contact him online today to get started.

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