Roughly 91,000 crashes in the United States are caused each year by drowsy driving — resulting in the deaths of nearly 800 people and injuries of around 50,000 others. These are the figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While these figures may be staggering, they're only estimates. Determining whether drowsy driving was a factor in a crash can be nearly impossible. There is rarely ever any physical evidence of drowsy driving, which leaves law enforcement with no choice but to rely on the confessions of at-fault drivers.
In addition, federal statistics show that drowsy driving is a factor in less than two percent of all crashes. A study conducted by AAA, however, concluded that the real figure is around 10 percent. They were able to determine this by installing in-vehicle dash cams to monitor drivers for eye closure moments before a crash.
Drowsy driving risk factors
Anyone who loses sleep before driving is at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. For example, if you stayed out later than usual last night and woke up early this morning, your lost hours of sleep could act just like alcohol or drug impairment. As a result, reaction time, judgment, and coordination are affected.
For some people, this risk is much greater, as getting adequate sleep poses a daily challenge. The most prevalent risk factors include:
- Drivers under age 25
- People who have undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders
- Those who work overnight or rotating shifts
- Commercial truck drivers
- People who travel for business
- Parents of infants and young children
The authors of a Sleep Review Mag article partnered with the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to launch stopdrowsydriving.org and a social media campaign to encourage people to take a drowsy driving quiz. The purpose of this effort is to raise awareness among drivers so they can avoid a catastrophe in the future.
In today's world, many people sacrifice sleep to juggle busy schedules. This, unfortunately, has become far too common. Nobody chooses when they're going to doze off. It can happen no matter how hard a drowsy driver tries to stay awake.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash with a driver who dozed off at the wheel, you have legal rights that must be upheld. An experienced car accident attorney at Dean Waite & Associates, LLC can investigate your crash and use evidence to support your claim. In addition, our legal team can help you recover damages accrued by medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Contact us online today to learn more.