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How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?

How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?

The dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving are well-known across the country, but what about drowsy driving? According to the CDC, drowsy driving is a serious issue in the United States. A 2016 study found that 1 out of 25 Americans claimed to have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the prior 30 days. While falling asleep behind the wheel oftentimes results in catastrophic car accidents, drowsy driving is a serious concern in and of itself.

What Causes Drowsiness?

The feeling of being drowsy or tired can be caused by a number of factors. A lack of sleep is the most obvious, but a large number of medications, like many antihistamines and some antidepressants, can also cause drowsiness. Drowsiness is actually one of the most common side effects for prescription and over-the-counter medications, along with dry mouth and upset stomach.
Lifestyle choices can also lead to drowsy driving. A person who works a night shift at a restaurant or hospital is more likely to drive while tired than a person who works an eight hour shift and gets off work at 4pm or 5pm. Commercial drivers who are on the road for long hours operating heavy vehicles like buses, semi-trucks, and tow trucks, also tend to be more drowsy behind the wheel.

How Does Drowsiness Affect Drivers?

No matter what the cause of drowsiness is, the outcome is a distracted and less coherent driver. Drowsy drivers are known to have:

  • Impaired attention
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired mental processing and judgement
  • Flawed decision making

The symptoms of drowsy driving closely emulate those of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, although they are much more difficult to track and quantify. According to a 2016 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is estimated that anywhere from 2% to 20% of annual traffic deaths could be traced to driver fatigue. In 2014, the NHTSA estimated that 800 people died and 44,000 were injured as a result of drowsy drivers in 2013.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving Accidents

One of the biggest issues with preventing drowsy driving is it’s a difficult act to quantify. Police can’t perform a breathalyzer test to know how sleepy someone may be, so the responsibility usually falls solely on the driver. One of the best ways to prevent drowsy driving is to know the signs.
Common signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Frequent blinking or yawning
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Missing your exit
  • Feeling as those you are teleporting through time (not being able to remember the last few minutes of driving)
  • Drifting into a rumble strip on the side of the road

Another way for drivers to prevent drowsy driving is by avoiding alcohol, even in small doses, which can lead to sleepiness. Being vigilant when taking medication is also a helpful precaution. Even a simple over the counter allergy medication can cause severe drowsiness resulting in a dangerous driving environment. If a driver is taking a medication known to cause drowsiness, they should avoid driving altogether. Driving while under the influence of medication known to impair driving can also lead to a DUI charge.
While the dangers of drowsy driving may not be as well-known as those of drunk driving, they are no less pertinent. Impaired driving is impaired driving whether it’s caused by alcohol, drugs, distractions, or being tired. Just as a driver should call a cab or friend to pick them up in the event of drinking too much, a person who is too tired to drive safely should do the same and avoid becoming another drowsy driving statistic.

At Kaufman Law, P.C., we are passionate about protecting the rights of injured individuals. If you were recently injured in a negligence-related accident, turn to our reputable attorneys for the support you need during this difficult time. Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys work diligently to secure maximum compensation so that our clients can move on with their lives without experiencing financial strain as a result of their injuries. Should you decide to be represented by our firm, you can feel peace of mind in knowing you have enlisted the services of a reputable and caring law firm.


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