Drowsy Driving Causes 100,000 Accidents Each Year
By Sandra Dalton, Staff Writer
Fatigue is an impairment just as real, and just as dangerous, as intoxication. According to a recent ABC News report, drowsy driving is behind 100,000 accidents each year. Driver fatigue in the trucking industry is a well-known and highly-publicized issue. Extensive and detailed regulations, already in place, have failed to prevent it. So how do we address drowsy driving among the 71% of Americans who drive to and from work every day? Most of us can’t get away with calling in “too tired to drive safely”. Raising awareness and addressing the underlying causes of driver fatigue may help reduce it.
Taking Drowsy Driving Seriously
The fact that drunk driving is dangerous and irresponsible is ingrained in our consciousness. It is a connection that is easy to make. Drowsy driving is more slippery. In our society today, getting by on very little sleep is a trait associated with the most highly successful people.
In reality, sleep deprivation causes serious harm to your health, productivity, and the quality of what you do, as well as causing impaired judgment and poor reaction times when driving. In a study that compared the impairment caused by sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption, researchers found that being awake for:
- 19 hours was comparable to a BAC of .05%
- 24 hours was comparable to a BAC of .10%
Fatigue Involved in 20% of Accidents
Reducing fatigue-related accidents is on the National Transportation Board’s 2016 Most Wanted List. The agency says that fatigue was a factor in nearly 20% of its major investigations completed between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2012. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), reports that nearly 20% of serious car crashes in the general population involve driver sleepiness.
Preventing Drowsy Driving
In December, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issue a final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) in commercial vehicles, to replace paper logs in an attempt to track driving times. Truckers are fighting the move and have asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue.
Either way, drowsy driving in the general public remains a serious threat to all of us. In a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of respondents admitted to driving while feeling sleepy and 37% said they had fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year.
Drowsy driving will not go away on its own. Drivers who are too tired to drive often don’t realize it. That is the deceptive nature of fatigue. Signs that you are too tired to drive, and need to pull over and rest include:
- Feeling restless and irritable
- Being unable to remember the last few miles you’ve driven
- Missing exits or turns
- Frequent blinking
- Frequent rubbing of your eyes
- Repeatedly yawning
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, you can learn more about your rights and how you can recover damages for your losses by searching our directory to find a lawyer near you.