The Dangers of Drowsy Driving and the Damage it Causes

The scenario is a familiar one. Driving home after a long day of work complete with hours of overtime, or perhaps from a fun but exhausting road trip, your eyes begin to feel heavy. Blasting the radio kept you alert for the first couple of minutes but you find yourself zoning out, no longer paying attention to the sounds coming from your favorite music station. The large coffee you had earlier isn’t providing the usual boost of energy and your eyes slowly close. Perhaps you catch yourself mere seconds after you doze off but perhaps not.

On the other side of the coin, maybe you are driving home at night, awake, alert with your eyes on the road. You spot the car in the lane next to yours swerving back and forth, not violently, but enough to stand out. Perhaps a driver who isn’t paying enough attention to the road, or a bit tired late at night. Before you can react, the car swerves into your lane and collides with you.

November 12-18, 2012 – Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

This is the scene the California Highway Patrol and the National Sleep Foundation wants drivers to avoid as they kick off Drowsy Driving Prevention Week from November 12th through 18th. There is no test of drowsy drivers as there are of drivers under the influence of alcohol. However, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow argues that “fatigued drivers are a safety risk on our roadways. If you are tired, reaction time and judgment can become impaired. Tired drivers behave similarly to those who are intoxicated.”

Studies estimate that 100,000 police reported crashes are due to drowsy drivers, leading to 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in damage every year. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 13.1% of crashes result in hospital admission. Again however, because no definite numbers can be surveyed, these numbers may actually be underestimations of the damage a drowsy driver causes. Other research has shown that drivers who are sleepy, have impaired functions comparable to drivers with alcohol levels of 0.05.

Additional sleep polls from the National Sleep Foundation in 2011 showed that 52% of drivers have driven drowsy in the past year, and even 37% have admitted to doing so in the past month. This type of driving can be considered a form of negligence and can cause a wide severity of injuries. There is a simple method to avoid drowsy driving and the car accidents that ensue. Get a good night’s rest and try not to drive long distances alone. Remember to take a break every couple of hours and if you find that you are still unable to fight off the drowsiness, stop and find a place to rest before resuming driving. It is far better to be safe and alive than to cause an accident.

Sources:
CHP Launches Campaign to Fight Driver Drowsiness
Announcements: Drowsy Driving Prevention Week – November 12 – 18

Crashes due to drowsy driving can lead to both personal and financial costs. Drivers can receive jail sentences for negligence and the damage they cause, and many lawsuits have been filed by victims seeking financial compensation for damages they incur. Common injuries that occur due to this include head trauma, separated shoulders, broken or fractured bones, spinal cord, neck and back injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an accident due to another party falling asleep at the wheel you may be entitled to compensation for expenses incurred due to the accident. Our San Francisco/Oakland personal injury attorney can help you determine if a claim is appropriate for your situation.