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How dangerous is drowsy driving?

Unfortunately, there is no meter to tell you how tired you are when you get behind the wheel. There’s no indicator light on the dashboard for fatigue. Outside of telltale physical symptoms such as yawning, drooping eyes and loss of focus, an individual might be hard-pressed to realize their level of fatigue and choose to find a safer way home.

Sadly, drowsy driving results in devastating vehicle collisions with catastrophic – even fatal – injuries.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s poll, 60% of adult drivers, which equated to about 168 million people, reported that they had driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the year previous. More than a third of the respondents, 37%, admitted they had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel during that same period.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 100,000 crashes reported each year are the direct result of fatigue. These crashes account for an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Unfortunately, these estimates might be quite a bit lower than the dangers in reality.

  • There is no test to determine fatigue. There is no “sleepiness” test analogous to a breath or blood test to determine drug or alcohol impairment.
  • The reporting process is inconsistent as there is no universal training to identify drowsiness as a crash factor.
  • Fatigue may play a role in crashes attributed to other causes such as alcohol or distracted driving in general.

Drivers who are tired lack the fast reactions necessary to keep safe on the road. From the loss of focus to falling asleep while behind the wheel, a fatigued driver can cause devastating collisions leading to serious injuries such as brain damage, spinal cord damage, amputations or broken bones. In severe collisions, vehicle occupants could die. If you were injured or you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, it is important that you discuss your case with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible.

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