Many people in California do not get enough sleep each night. People who do not get adequate sleep might be fatigued when they drive. Drowsy driving is a serious problem that results in thousands of accidents each year and is responsible for numerous injuries and fatalities. When comparing the impact of sleep deprivation on driving with drunk driving, several similarities can be seen.
Effects of drowsiness vs. alcohol on driving
Several studies have been conducted to compare the effects of drowsiness to alcohol on driving. Researchers have found that both sleep deprivation and alcohol reduce the alertness of drivers and their ability to make decisions. Controlled studies in which the researchers were able to control the amount of sleep or the amount of alcohol ingested revealed a similar number of collisions between the two groups. When people have been awake for 18 hours, their reaction times, hand-eye coordination, and abilities to multi-task are similar to those of people with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.05%. When people have been awake for 20 hours, the effects are similar to having a BAC of 0.08%, which is the legal limit for alcohol in California.
People with the following risk factors are likelier to be involved in drowsy driving accidents:
- Driving in the early morning between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Driving after sleeping less than six hours
- Having sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
- Taking certain medications or drinking alcohol
People whose jobs involve shift work and professional drivers are also at higher risk of being involved in drowsy driving accidents.
People should try to get enough sleep each night. If they have sleep problems, they should talk to their doctors. When drowsy driving is the suspected cause of car accidents, people who are injured may want to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.