If you've ever gotten behind the steering wheel of your car while exhausted or fatigued, then you should know that you may have been endangering yourself and others. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 police-reported motor vehicle crashes can be attributed to driver fatigue ever year--that's about 71,000 injuries, 1,550 fatalities, and $12.5 billion in costs. (It is also important to note that it is impossible to truly know how many other traffic collisions involving driver exhaustion or drowsiness go unreported each year.)
Considering that a National Sleep Foundation poll in 2005 found that 60% of adult motorists (approximately 168 million drivers) operated a motor vehicle while drowsy in the last year, it is a miracle that these injury and death numbers aren't higher. And although, according to AAA Foundation, 96% of Americans believe that it isn't acceptable for someone to drive when they are so tired that keeping their eyes open becomes challenging, about 1/3rd of Americans who were asked admitted to having done so in just the last 30 months. "People who are tired or sleeping don't realize that not only is the body fatigued, but so are the mind, senses, and reflexes, which need to be fully alert when someone is driving," said Los Angeles car accident attorney Vincent Howard.
Drivers who are tired can find it difficult to process and take in information. They may not even realize that they have started to drift into another lane or off the road or that they have briefly fallen asleep. Driving while exhausted at night can be especially problematic because it may already be hard to see the road and other vehicles when it is dark. Sleepiness also affects vision and reaction time. Meantime, studies have shown that a person who hasn't slept in over 20 hours is as impaired as someone who would be considered legally too drunk to drive. "Here is one more seemingly harmless behavior that can actually prove deadly on the road," said Orange County, California injury attorney Vincent Howard.
Seeing as it takes just a few seconds to get involved in a crash especially when one is driving at high speeds, closing one's eyes to rest them for a few seconds can be considered careless behavior for the purposes of later determining who caused an injury or death.
People Most at Risk of Drowsy Driving:
• Young drivers
• Shift workers, especially those who work the overnights
• People suffering from sleep apnea
• Drivers on prescription medications
• Business travelers
• Commercial truck drivers
Who's at Risk? Drowsy Driving, National Sleep Foundation, July 19, 2012
Drowsy Driving, NHTSA
More Blog Posts:
Road Rage Can Cause Serious Orange County, California Car Accidents, California Injury Lawyers, July 13, 2012
Irvine Motorcycle Crash May Have Been Caused by Drunken Driver, California Injury Lawyers, March 31, 2012
Huntington Beach Personal Injury Claims Seek Damages on Behalf of Tustin Bicycle Accident Victim and Her Husband, California Injury Lawyers, November 18, 2011
"At Howard Law, our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers have seen the devastating consequences that can happen because someone drove while fatigued," said LA personal injury attorney Vincent Howard. "The sooner you get legal representation, the better for you and the outcome of your claim or lawsuit."