Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Whether you are an intern coming off of a long shift, a college student who pulled an all-nighters studying for exams, or you are a new parent whose newborn is up for hours at night, most people know what it feels like to be sleep deprived. People who have not gotten enough sleep often have trouble concentrating, focusing, or simply keeping their eyes open. Unfortunately, this can be extremely dangerous when that person is behind the wheel of a car. In fact, studies suggest that approximately 20 percent of fatal car accidents that occur in the United States involve a drowsy driver. This should be a wake-up call to drivers that driving while drowsy can have serious, even fatal consequences.

According to traffic safety officials, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Studies show that a person who has gone a mere 21 hours without sleep can experience the same effects as if he or she had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. In addition, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drivers who have had only five or six hours of sleep in a period of 24 hours are twice as likely to be involved in a car wreck compared to drivers who have had seven or more hours of sleep. Unfortunately, the less sleep a person gets, the higher the crash rate. The director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA urges anyone who has slept less than seven hours in a 24-hour period of time to avoid getting behind the wheel.

Drowsy Driving Risk Factors

The National Sleep Foundation has found that the following groups of people are at an increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel:

  • Individuals who have had fewer than six hours of sleep are three times more likely to cause a drowsy driving accident.
  • Long-haul drivers, as well as others in the transportation industry, are at a greater risk of being in a fatigue-related truck accident.
  • Anyone who suffers from chronic or undiagnosed sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, is up to seven times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
  • People who work night shifts are up to six times more likely to have sleep-related accidents.
  • Anyone taking medication that can cause drowsiness, like antidepressants, sleep aids, and antihistamines.
  • Employees who work more than 60 hours per week are at a 40 percent greater risk.
  • Young drivers, particularly males under the age of 26.

Even though drowsy driving is a fairly common occurrence, it can be difficult to prove that fatigue was a factor in a wreck. Drunk driving can be proven using a Breathalyzer, and phone records can prove if a driver was talking or texting while driving. While there is no comparable test that can prove a driver was drowsy, law enforcement will consider the following factors to confirm whether driver fatigue caused the car accident:

  • Analysis of tire skid marks
  • Employment records that show long work hours without a break for sleep
  • Traffic cameras that captured the driver’s behavior at the time of the accident
  • Vehicle data recorder if the car is equipped with one
  • Witness testimony

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the average American does not get enough sleep. Health experts say that the average adult should get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. In addition to causing dangerous traffic accidents, prolonged sleep deprivation can cause a host of health issues including weight gain and depression.

Harford County Car Accident Lawyers Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, do not delay in contacting the Harford County car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. If the wreck was caused by another driver who either fell asleep at the wheel, or showed other signs of drowsy driving, we will hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Our dedicated team will fight for the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Harford County, which includes the municipalities of Aberdeen, Bel Air, and Havre de Grace.