The numbers are alarming when it comes to drowsy drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year in the United States may be caused by drowsy drivers and that about 100,000 car crashes reported to the police each year are a result of sleepiness and fatigue. One in 25 drivers, 18 or older, admit to falling asleep while driving within a thirty day period according to the Center for Disease Control.
“Fatigued driving is an extreme hazard,” said Attorney Ken Gerber, a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer. “The effects of fatigue on the ability to drive are very similar to those of driving under the influence because it directly affects the ability to recognize and react to dangers immediately.”
In fact, 19 hours without sleep is comparable to a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .05% and 24 hours with no sleep equals a BAC of .10%. The legal limit in Arizona is .08%. Studies have shown that driving when fatigued can be as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Fatigued Greyhound Bus Driver
Recently, passengers were able to get a Greyhound bus driver to stop after they allegedly noticed the driver nodding off and swerving. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
“Fatigued driving in any vehicle, but particularly in large vehicles such as buses and tractor trailers, has the potential to cause extraordinary carnage to innocent people,” said Gerber.
The time requirements and schedules placed on these drivers directly relates to their interest in pushing forward with their drives when they should stop and take a break.”
Causes of Drowsy Driving
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in addition to not getting enough sleep, drowsy driving also happens because of untreated sleep disorders, medications, alcohol and shift work. No one knows the exact moment when sleep comes over their body.
Even if you don’t fall asleep at the wheel, being sleeping still impacts your ability to drive safely since you’re less able to pay attention to the road, it slows your reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly and it affects your ability to make good decisions.
The NHTSA notes that most drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon — both of which are times when there are dips in the circadian rhythm. Usually, these crashes only involve a single vehicle with no passengers on rural roads and highways. Often, the car is running off the road at a high speed with no braking.
Those at Risk
The National Sleep Foundation says people more at risk of driving while fatigued include:
- Shift workers and those who work long hours.
- Commercial drivers who drive a high number of miles and at night.
- People with untreated sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.
- Young drivers, especially guys, 16-25 years of age.
- Business travelers who might be suffering from jet ligand crossing time zones.
- If you should need a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer in the event you’re a victim of this type of car crash, please give us a call.