Drowsy driving, fatigued driving, or sleep driving — whatever you call it, driving while you are so tired that you have trouble staying awake is dangerous. Drowsy driving can have deadly consequences. You may never consider getting behind the wheel of your car after drinking or after taking a prescription pain medication that can make you drowsy; however, you are probably guilty of driving when you are tired and fatigued. Most all of us are guilty of this dangerous driving condition.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a survey of drivers in 19 states. One question posed to the drivers was had they fallen asleep while driving a motor vehicle during the past 30 days. A surprising 4.2 percent of respondents were honest and admitted they had fallen asleep while driving at some point during the past 30 days. California had a slightly higher average at 4.8 percent of the respondents.
How Serious Is the Drowsy Driving Problem?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 1,500 people die and 71,000 people are injured each year in 100,000 motor vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving. Drowsy driving is estimated to cost $12.5 billion in monetary losses each year. According to the NHTSA, the risks for drowsy driving include:
- Sleep loss
- Use of sedating medications such as antidepressants, pain relievers, sleep aids, and some antihistamines
- Driving between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the midafternoon
- Driving long hours without breaks or long hours in one day
- Driving a substantial number of hours each year
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Unrecognized or untreated sleep disorders
- Performing shift work (see NHTSAs “Wake Up and Get Some Sleep” campaign aimed at shift workers)
Any of the above factors can create a situation where a driver is too drowsy to drive; however, when you combine any of the above factors, the cumulative effect can be catastrophic. The signs you may be too drowsy to driver include but are not limited to:
- Rubbing your eyes and yawning frequently and repeatedly
- Driving from your lane into another lane
- Missing your exits or turns
- Trouble keeping your eyes open or your head up
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Your thoughts wander or you begin to daydream
- You turn up the radio and roll down the window
Am I Responsible if I Cause a Drowsing Driving Accident?
Yes, in most cases if you cause an accident because you were driving while drowsy the other driver will have a valid claim against you for damages. Likewise, if you are injured in an accident involving a drowsy driver, you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries from that driver.
What Can I Do?
The National Sleep Foundation provides a list of do’s and don’ts for avoiding drowsing driving.
- Don’t drive if you are tired or if you have taken medication that can cause drowsiness
- Don’t drive at times when you would normally be asleep
- Don’t drive after consuming any alcohol
- Don’t rely on the air conditioner, the window, or the radio to keep you awake
- Always get a good night’s sleep
- Leave the road immediately if you notice any signs of drowsy driving
- Drive with a friend who can watch for signs of fatigue or drowsiness
- Consume caffeine but do not rely solely on this to keep you awake – continue to watch for signs of drowsy driving
Have You Been Injured in a Drowsy Driving Accident?
If a drowsy driver caused your car crash, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. The personal injury attorneys of Torem & Associates represent clients in Fresno, CA and the surrounding Central California Valley. Contact our office by calling 1-800-954-4444, chat with a representative online, or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We care about your injuries, your recovery, and your losses from a drowsy driving accident.