In 2016, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced the receipt of a $100,000 grant from the National Road Safety Foundation that allows it to support state programs designed to curb the growing problem of drowsy driving.
According to an August 2016 report released by the GHSA and State Farm Insurance, driving while fatigued causes as many as 328,000 auto accidents each year, resulting in an annual societal cost of approximately $109 billion.
Do you know the risks associated with drowsy driving? We've outlined important facts about drowsy driving, including how to spot driver fatigue and what you can do if you were injured in an accident that was caused by a drowsy driver.
Drowsy Driving Is Impaired Driving
When people think of impaired driving, behaviors such as drunk, drugged, or distracted driving are some of the first things that spring to mind. While most motorists wouldn't dream of getting behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks, those same motorists might think nothing of driving while fatigued. After all, juggling family, work and life obligations can make it difficult to get the rest that you need.
However, in the interest of public safety, it's important that motorists realize that drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving that negatively affects the ability to drive safely, which makes it every bit as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And it's not just falling asleep at the wheel that's the problem—driving while fatigued can impair a driver's judgment, as well as reduce alertness and reaction time, which increases the chances of being involved in an accident.
In fact, according to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving while fatigued doubles a driver's risk of making dangerous performance errors.
Despite the risks, in a 2005 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 168 million people, or roughly 60 percent of adult drivers, said they had driven while drowsy in the previous year. Even more horrifying, approximately one-third of those drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. In the same poll, 13 percent of the drivers who fell asleep while driving say they've dozed off behind the wheel at least once a month, while four percent of those drivers admitted that doing so resulted in a near accident or an actual collision.
Risk Factors for Drowsy Driving
An individual who is sleep-deprived or fatigued is at risk of driving while drowsy. Other factors that can increase the risk of drowsy driving-related accidents include:
- Driving long distances without breaks
- Driving alone
- Driving through the night
- Taking sedating over-the-counter or prescription medication
- Working more than one job or more than 60 hours per week
Additionally, research shows that some groups are more prone to drowsy driving than others. These at-risk groups include young people (especially men age 26 and younger), shift workers, commercial drivers, business travelers, and people with undiagnosed or untreated disorders that affect sleep.
Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue
Do you know the warning signs associated with drowsy driving? Listen to your body and pull over so you can rest if you experience any of the following drowsy driving symptoms:
- Heavy eyelids
- Frequent blinking
- Inability to focus
- Nodding head
- Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
- Excessive yawning
- Restlessness or irritability
Were You Involved in an Accident?
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a drowsy driver, you may be able to pursue compensation for medical expenses; damage to your vehicle; time missed from work; pain and suffering;, and more. You shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of another person's poor driving choices. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you fight for the financial award you deserve. Call Sevenish Law's Indianapolis law office at 800-278-9200 or complete our online contact form to set up an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your drowsy driving case.