Waking Up Drivers for Safer California Roadways

December 31, 1969

Wake up!

No, seriously. We're asking drivers to open their eyes and pay attention behind the wheel. Let's be serious, we've all been there -- driving along the road and our eyes are drooping and our thoughts are drifting. We're talking about drowsy driving.
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According to Yahoo News, there have been more than 11,000 fatalities in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010 because of drowsy driving. And those are only the fatalities we know about. Researchers believe that the number is actually much higher.

Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers understand that there are tests out there to see if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, there's no test to see if a driver was drowsy at the time of an accident. And who's willing to admit they were at fault? The sad truth is not many. And that's why these kinds of accidents continue to endanger our roadways.

Lawmakers have even tried to enact laws to keep drivers aware. Motor coach and commercial truck drivers aren't allowed to spend more than 11 hours behind the wheel in one day. The problem there is that these drivers are the ones reporting their own hours. And we all know we can't rely on that.

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), drowsy driving caused close to 4,000 accidents, more than 30 fatalities and over 2,000 injuries in 2010.

There are many underlying causes of sleepiness, drowsiness, fatigue and drowsy driving. They include sleep loss from restriction, interruption or fragmentation; chronic sleep debt; circadian factors associated with driving patterns or work schedules; time on task; the use of sedating medications; and the consumption of alcohol when already tired. These factors have cumulative effects and a combination of any of these increases crash risk greatly.

There are simple ways that you can help to eliminate your risks for one of these accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sleep is the best medicine. Before heading out, make sure you get a good night's sleep. If that doesn't work and you still find yourself drowsy behind the wheel, try drinking a couple cups of coffee and follow it up with a 15- to 20-minute nap. This can help to refresh your attention for a short period of time.

"It's just as bad as drinking and driving. As far as public awareness, drowsy driving is in the dark ages compared to that, but it's just as dangerous," said Mark Rosekind with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

So how serious is it?

According to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 5 percent of U.S. adult drivers say that they've nodded off or completely fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once while driving in the last month.

And these accidents are costly, too! One analysis estimated the cost of automobile accidents attributed to sleepiness to be between $29.2 and $37.9 billion.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.

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