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The Dangers of Driving Drowsy

By San Diego Attorney on January 31, 2020

Drowsy driving has become a major problem on America’s roadways. It was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in a recent year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated one in every 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep at the wheel within the previous 30 days.

Why Is Driving Drowsy Dangerous?

Driving drowsy is dangerous because sleep deprivation has similar effects on driving abilities as alcohol. A person who is awake for 18 hours will drive as though he or she had a blood alcohol concentration of .05, as stated by the National Sleep Foundation. If a driver who has been awake for a full 24 hours, the effects of sleep deprivation are similar to having a blood alcohol concentration of .10 (the legal limit in every state in the U.S. is .08.) A drowsy driver may also fall asleep at the wheel and cross over into oncoming traffic, causing a deadly head-on collision.

Who Is At Risk of Drowsy Driving?

Some individuals are more prone to driving drowsy than others. These include:

  • People who do not get enough sleep
  • People who take medications that make them sleepy
  • People who consume alcohol before driving
  • Commercial drivers who operate tractor trailers, buses, etc.
  • Shift workers who work the night shift or long hours
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea

What Are the Warning Signs of a Drowsy Driver?

Drowsy driving can make it difficult to pay attention to the road and impact a driver’s ability to make quick decisions. Drowsy drivers can nod off at the wheel while traveling at high speeds and may not brake or swerve to avoid obstacles. Signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Yawning or blinking frequently
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  • Drifting out of the proper lane
  • Missing an exit
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road

How Often Do People Drive Drowsy?

The CDC reports that, according to a survey of 150,000 adults in 19 states and D.C., 4% admitted to having fallen asleep while driving at least once within the previous 30 days. People who snored or typically slept fewer than six hours a night were more likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving can be prevented by:

  • Getting enough sleep (at least seven hours a day for adults and at least eight hours for teens)
  • Getting treatment for sleep disorders or snoring
  • Avoiding alcohol and medications that can make you sleepy

Hit By a Sleepy Driver? Call a Car Accident Lawyer.

A sleep-deprived driver may fall asleep at the wheel or make very poor driving decisions that cause an accident. If you have been hurt in a crash caused by a sleepy driver, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced lawyer right away. Our San Diego car accident attorneys at jD LAW, P.C. are dedicated advocates for car accident victims. Call us at (760) 630-2000 to find out how we can help.

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