Drowsy driving leads to some 328,000 crashes every year in California and across the U.S. according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The organization estimates that 109,000 of these crashes end in injury and 6,400 in death each year. A fatigued driver is three times more likely to crash than one who is wide awake.
A survey from the National Sleep Foundation says that around half of all drivers in the U.S. consistently get behind the wheel while drowsy despite the risks. Twenty percent even admitted to falling asleep on the road at least once in the previous year. It’s clear that most drivers do not take the dangers seriously.
Drowsiness has been shown to slow people’s reaction times and impair their judgment. Being awake for more than 20 consecutive hours will make one act like a person with a blood alcohol concentration of .08: literally, then, like a drunk person. Severe lack of sleep leads to bursts of inattention called microsleep, and these can last up to four or five seconds of not paying attention to the road.
The only permanent way to prevent drowsy driving is to get adequate sleep. Adults need at least seven hours each night. Education programs, especially on college campuses, and the use of crash-avoidance technologies like lane departure warning and drowsiness alert may help prevent accidents as well.
Victims of a drowsy driver may be able to pursue a personal injury case against that person’s auto insurance company, but they might want a lawyer to help them. There must be proof of negligence, and short of the defendant’s own testimony, it can sometimes be hard to prove drowsiness. Personal injury lawyers may have a network of investigators and other third parties who can handle this step. Victims may leave all negotiations to their lawyer, litigating only as a last resort.