The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

No driver intentionally causes a drowsy driving car accident. Drivers often underestimate their level of fatigue or overestimate their driving abilities. Most drivers involved in drowsy driving accidents did not realize they fell asleep until they collided. As a driver in Alabama, do not make the mistake of thinking you can safely drive while tired. Based on many sources, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as driving drunk.

What Percentage of Fatal Accidents Are Due to Driving Drowsy?

Drowsy driving is behind thousands of serious and fatal car accidents each year. In 2017 alone, drowsy driving caused 91,000 accidents, injured 50,000 people and killed almost 800 victims, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drowsy driving statistics are surprising – yet they probably do not paint the whole picture. It is often difficult or impossible for investigators to confirm drowsy driving as the cause of fatal accidents when the at-fault driver does not survive. Investigators may not be able to differentiate drowsy driving from distracted driving or other crash causes.

Falling asleep at the wheel is responsible for around 2% of annual motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. From 2013 to 2017, over 4,000 victims lost their lives in confirmed accidents involving drowsy drivers. A survey of about 150,000 drivers found that 4% admitted to falling asleep while driving at least once in the last 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 20% admitted to falling asleep while driving in the last year. Drowsy driving is a highly prevalent problem that takes lives annually. It is also preventable if all drivers take due care.

What Are the Effects of Drowsy Driving?

The drivers who are most prone to driving drowsy are those who work the night shift, commercial truck drivers, people who are sleep deprived and people with sleep conditions such as sleep apnea. Drugs and prescription medications, such as allergy and cold medicines, can also lead to drowsiness. Learning the effects of drowsy driving can prevent you from underestimating how dangerous it is to try to control a motor vehicle while falling asleep.

  • Reduced reaction times
  • Slower reflexes
  • Blurred vision
  • Impeded senses
  • Less muscle strength and coordination
  • Reduced control over the vehicle
  • Limited awareness of hazards
  • Shorter attention span
  • Poorer judgment

Drowsiness or fatigue can affect virtually every aspect of your ability to drive, from your vision to your motor control. The first signs that you are becoming too drowsy to safely drive can include yawning, frequent blinking, squinting, daydreaming, trouble focusing, trouble keeping your head up and difficulty remembering the last few miles you drove. Pull over someplace safe and get some rest if you start to feel drowsy. Coffee, energy drinks and stimulants are not safe replacements for sleep.

Is Driving Tired as Bad as Driving Drunk?

Most drivers would never dream of driving drunk – yet they do they equivalent when they get behind the wheel tired. Drowsiness can impair a driver just as much as alcohol. According to the National Safety Council, driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep impairs you the same amount as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08%. This is the legal limit in Alabama.

You are about three times more likely to get into a car accident while driving fatigued vs. well-rested. Driving drowsy can lead to many of the same mistakes and traffic infractions as driving drunk, including drifting out of your lane, speeding, missing roadway signs, running red lights, tailgating and running off the road. Fatigue can significantly increase your risk of colliding with another vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian or stationary object. If you cause a drowsy driving crash in Alabama, you will be financially responsible for damages. Keep yourself and others safe by never driving tired.

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