Drowsy driving, and why it is so dangerous

Plenty of drivers in California head out on the road while in a drowsy state of mind, yet few are aware of the dangers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are 328,000 car crashes every year that are caused by drowsy drivers. Of these, 109,000 involve injuries, and 6,400 are fatal.

Drowsiness is known to cause impairment. It makes one inattentive, leads to poor judgment and slows down reaction times. One can see how this combination would be perilous on the road. In severe cases of drowsiness, one experiences what’s called microsleep, a four- or five-second burst of inattention. During one of these episodes, a driver traveling down the highway could cover the length of a football field without knowing it.

Fatigue, says the National Sleep Foundation, raises the risk for a crash three times. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults sleep at least seven hours a night; this is the only real solution to drowsiness. If one feels drowsy despite a sufficient quantity of sleep, one may have a sleep disorder.

Other interventions exist for drowsy driving. Newer vehicles can be equipped with lane departure warning, drowsiness alert and other crash avoidance technology. Guidelines for clearer labels on medications could prevent many from driving after taking medications that cause drowsiness.

Drowsy driving is one of the most widespread causes of motor vehicle accidents, yet it can sometimes be hard to prove. The AAA estimate of 328,000 crashes is actually triple that of the annual number of police-reported drowsy driving crashes. This means that victims of a drowsy driver who want to file a personal injury claim may have a hard time proving the defendant’s negligence. They may speak with a lawyer about this and hire him or her for assistance, especially with negotiations.