Everyone knows driving while intoxicated is not a smart idea. However, many don’t realize that driving without getting enough sleep beforehand can sometimes be as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that between 2005 and 2009 drowsy driving accounted for approximately 83,000 crashes on average every year. About 37,000 of those annual crashes resulted in some form of injury. Almost 900 resulted in death.
It’s worth noting that some researchers believe these estimates are likely very conservative. It’s possible drowsy drivers may cause as many as 6,000 deaths in the United States annually.
Drivers must be educated on the dangers of getting behind the wheel when they aren’t well-rested enough to do so. Lives are at stake.
How Lack of Sleep Can Result in Car Accidents
The human body needs sleep. A person’s ability to perform various tasks will naturally be impaired when they are not sleeping as much as they should.
Safely operating a motor vehicle is one task a person will struggle with (even if they don’t necessarily realize it) when they are sleep-deprived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if someone has been awake for at least 18 hours, they are impaired in the same way they would be if they had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%. Being awake for 24 hours results in levels of impairment similar to having a BAC of 0.10%.
Someone who has not gotten sufficient rest may be more likely to cause accidents not only as a result of falling asleep at the wheel, but also because lack of sleep can cause them to make such errors as:
- Missing their exits
- Not noticing other motorists, pedestrians, or hazards, or failing to avoid drivers, pedestrians, and hazards due to slowed reaction times
- Overlooking traffic signs and signals
Not getting enough sleep can also have a negative influence on a motorist’s judgment. They might thus take risks they typically would not take if they were properly rested, such as pulling out in front of oncoming traffic when a driver might be too close to hit the brakes in time and avoid a collision.
Who Are Drowsy Drivers?
Some types of individuals are more likely to be involved in drowsy driving accidents than others. They include:
- Those who work night shifts and/or particularly long shifts
- Drivers with untreated or undiagnosed apnea or other such sleep disorders
- Commercial truck drivers
- Drivers who take medications that might make them drowsy
Keep in mind that, while you may be a responsible motorist who would not drive if you know you were too tired to do so, you can’t prevent others from driving while sleep-deprived. You may thus be involved in a drowsy driving accident resulting from someone else’s negligence one day.
If this ever happens, a Ventura County car accident attorney at The Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman can help you pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other such losses resulting from your accident. Learn more by contacting our offices online or calling us at 805-983-2344 for a free consultation.
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