Unseen Danger: Drowsy Drivers Put Everyone at Risk

Auto Accident, Personal Injury Attorneys Blog
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Spring is here and summer is around the corner—with extra hours of daylight. The open road beckons, and with it, the lure of more driving. Unfortunately, few of us get enough sleep, and many get behind the wheel after a late night out. Most drivers push themselves despite fatigue, medication, illness, and stress. Combine a tired driver with a 4,000-pound vehicle barreling at 60 miles per hour, and you have an accident in waiting. A fatigued driver is a veritable loaded gun.

Too Many Crashes Result From Drowsy Driving

According to a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, drowsiness causes about 10 percent of all car crashes. That is five to 10 times more than previous federal estimates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of 25 drivers fell asleep while driving within the last 30 days.

Drowsy Driving Equals Drunk Driving

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that, in terms of its dangers and effects, drowsy driving mirrors drunk driving. According to the NSF, being awake for:

  • Eighteen consecutive hours makes people drive like their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.05. (In all 50 states, a 0.08 BAC is the legal limit.)
  • Twenty-four straight hours makes people drive like their BAC is 0.10 (well past the legal limit).

More sobering statistics: Per an NSF poll, 60 percent of drivers admit to driving while feeling sleepy, and 37 percent admit to falling asleep behind the wheel within the last year.

More Than Lack of Sleep

Besides insufficient (or inadequate) sleep, drivers often get tired because they:

  • Drive late at night (often after midnight)
  • Eat poorly or rely on caffeine
  • Are angry or distressed
  • Are out of sync with their bodies’ natural rhythms
  • Drive long uninterrupted stretches, causing “highway hypnosis”
  • Work too many hours
  • May have an underlying sleep disorder
  • Are inexperienced or unaware of local conditions and hazards
  • Are over-stimulated (including from electronics)
  • Do not take enough rest breaks

Driver fatigue doesn’t necessarily mean falling asleep or dozing behind the wheel. Tired drivers react slower, suffer from impaired judgment, and may not recognize (or appreciate) hazardous weather or road conditions. They are less attentive and more easily distracted—all of which forms a recipe for disaster.

Catastrophic Injuries and Staggering Costs

Motor vehicle accidents often result in substantial, lifelong, catastrophic injuries—or death. Injuries include lost arms or legs, head injuries, brain damage, deep cuts, bruises, broken bones, dental and jaw injuries, paralysis, spinal cord damage, impaired motor coordination, significant pain, and emotional trauma. They take a huge toll not only on the person involved in the crash, but also on family members, caretakers, coworkers, and employers. Injuries can cost millions, require multiple surgeries and rehabilitation, and last months, years, or a lifetime. Some never recover.

Sadly, this wreckage is avoidable.

Injured by a Drowsy Driver? Call an Experienced Richmond, Virginia, Personal Injury Attorney Today for Help

If you were hurt in an accident that a drowsy driver caused, Virginia law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries. At Emroch & Kilduff, our experienced car accident lawyers in Richmond will review the facts of your case at no cost to you. We know how to determine whether the at-fault driver who injured you was drowsy. Schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling our office today at (804) 358-1568 or contact us online.