Drowsy driving statistics are America’s wake-up call

Drowsy driving is a deadly problem affecting millions across the country. Recent studies have shown that far too many people regularly drive drowsy.

It is almost unheard of for any American adult to avoid being sleep-deprived at some point during his or her lifetime. Many people in Virginia and elsewhere do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Being chronically sleep-deprived may cause numerous adverse health effects that most people are aware of. However, another dangerous effect of getting too little sleep, which many people either do not think about or shrug off, is drowsy driving.

In a 2015 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 31.5 percent of those polled said that they had driven while severely drowsy during the past month, and 43.2 percent said they had actually nodded off behind the wheel. Perhaps most disturbingly, many said this occurred on a regular basis.

Report: millions regularly drive drowsy

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, a combined GHSA and State Farm Insurance study determined that about 84 million people across the country drive while drowsy. In 2015, about 5,000 people were killed in crashes attributed to drowsy driving.

Are there some types of drivers who are more likely than others to drive while sleep-deprived? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these include the following:

  • People who do not get enough sleep regularly, such as high school or college students
  • Those who work late shifts or overnight
  • People who drive trucks, buses or commercial vehicles
  • Drivers with untreated or undiagnosed sleeping disorders
  • Those who take medication with sedating effects

In another study, Australian researchers found out that drivers who have been awake for 18 hours have an impairment level equal to a blood alcohol content of .05 percent. After being awake for 24 hours, the impairment equivalent rises to .10 percent.

People may reduce the risks of sleep-related motor vehicle collisions by getting a good night's sleep as often as possible. When going on long trips, it is advisable to stop every 100 miles or so, or every couple of hours. Bringing a friend along to switch driving shifts may also help. If there is noticeable sleepiness, it is safest to pull over and take a nap for at least a half hour.

Precautionary measures may go a long way toward preventing an accident, but they cannot change how others drive. For Roanoke residents who are injured by the negligent actions of someone else, it may be necessary to contact The Law Offices of Daniel L. Crandall & Associates for assistance in filing a personal injury claim.