The Impact of Driving Drowsy

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released a startling new study that sheds even more light on the impact of driving drowsy.

According to the report, drowsy driving is a factor in about 25% of the deadly motor vehicle crashes that occur in the U.S. each year. That means as many as 7,500 fatal automobile accidents are the result of driving drowsy.

Based on the CDC’s findings, that makes drowsy driving a leading cause of traffic accidents in today’s fast-paced society, where downtime is rare and hectic lives are the norm.

How Does Drowsiness Impact our Ability to Drive?

When we think of how sleepiness affects our ability to drive, our minds often go to the worst case scenario—actually falling asleep at the wheel. Falling asleep while driving is of course disastrous, but it’s not only nodding off that’s problematic.

Simpluy being tired can greatly impact your ability to drive, even if you never actually doze off. When you’re feeling sleepy behind the wheel, it impairs your ability to make quick decisions, and it also negatively impacts the amount of attention you pay while driving. These are two factors that can quickly lead to an accident, which oftentimes becomes incredibly harmful and even fatal.

Additionally, if you’re feeling even a little tired or sluggish while driving, it can alter processing time, make you less cautious and more aggressive, and affect your judgment.

It’s not uncommon for drivers to feel sleepy, either. According to a 2010 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 41 percent of respondents said they had either felt sleepy while driving or had dozed off while behind the wheel during their lifetime.

The new CDC study also shows that four percent of Americans report drowsy driving on a monthly basis, which means as many as 1 in 25 drivers are behind the wheel while they’re feeling tired.

The Riskiest Factors

The CDC’s study didn’t just focus on the effects of driving while tired—it also look at the specifics, in the form of the demographics most likely to be impacted by a drowsy driving accident.

One of the most relevant groups is young male drivers, under the age of 25—they’re the most likely demographic to drive while tired. Additionally, people who get fewer than five hours of sleep a night are a risky group, which is to be expected, and people who binge on alcohol also tend to be more tired when driving.

Personal Injury Cases

Accidents caused by drowsy driving are one of the biggest reasons people file personal injury lawsuits, which makes sense, because of the number of accidents directly related to driving drowsy.

The challenging part of these cases is that it’s difficult to prove someone is driving drowsy, unlike proving someone is driving under the influence, or driving while texting.

Additionally, many of the first responders and police officers that arrive at the scene of these accidents aren’t yet trained to spot drowsy drivers, as they are to see signs of drug or alcohol impairment on the part of the driver.

Despite the challenges, there are families around the country that have been awarded millions of dollars in personal injury cases pertaining to drowsy driving.

If you think you, or one of your family members have been involved in an accident that was the result of a drowsy driver, the best thing to do is contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of these difficult but all-too-common situations. 

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