Drowsy Driving: Drivers who Fall Asleep Behind the Wheel Causes 1,550 US Traffic Crash Deaths and 71,000 Injuries a Year

November 8-14, 2010 marks Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. According to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, 41% of drivers surveyed have admitted to drowsy driving. Unfortunately, what many people fail to realize is that driving while tired is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Impaired judgment, slowed reflexes, blurred vision, a foggy mind, and possibly drifting in and out of consciousness can be symptoms of both drunk driving and drowsy driving. Our Miami car accident lawyers have seen the catastrophic consequences that can arise when someone is exhausted or falls asleep while operating a motor vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drivers who fall asleep while driving are responsible for 71,000 traffic injuries, 1,550 fatalities, and over 100,000 motor vehicle crashes in the US annually. Per the AAA Foundation’s new study, drowsy driving plays a role in 16.5% of deadly US traffic crashes.

Among the study’s findings:
• Young drivers, ages 16-24, were the ones most likely to fall asleep while driving.
• Men more than women were more likely to fall asleep while operating a motor vehicle.
• 26.1% of those who admitted to falling asleep while driving did so between the hours of noon and 5pm. The percentage was about the same for drivers who fell asleep between midnight and 6am.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a person that risks drowsy driving takes the chance that he/she will fall asleep at the wheel. That said, some groups are at higher risk of drowsy driving. In addition to young drivers, other motorists who are potentially at risk of this dangerous driving behavior include:

• Shift workers
• Commercial truck drivers
• People with sleep disorders-especially undiagnosed ones
• Business travelers suffering from jetlag
• Tired travelers

One need only look back to the 2009 Miami tractor-trailer accident in Oklahoma involving a 76-year-old trucker who investigators say fell asleep at the wheel. The multi-vehicle chain reaction crash that he triggered killed 10 people and injured 6 others.

Study examines toll of drowsy driving, Washington Post, November 8, 2010
Study shows drowsy drivers behind the wheel, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Driving Tired is Like Driving Drunk, US News & World Report

Related Web Resources:
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, National Sleep Foundation (PDF)

Read the AAA Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Report (PDF)

If you believe your South Florida traffic crash was caused by a negligent driver or another party, do not hesitate to contact our West Palm Beach injury law firm today.