Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

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Drowsy driving just as dangerous as drunk driving

Drowsy driving is prevalent in California and across the U.S. In fact, a study by the American Sleep Foundation found that around 50 percent of adult drivers engage in drowsy driving. Worse, 40 percent of drivers admit they've fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives, and 20 percent admit they've fallen asleep while driving within the last 12 months.

There is some dispute over the exact amount of drowsy driving crashes that occur on U.S. roads each year. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that there are approximately 100,000 drowsy driving car accidents reported by the police annually, which resulted in 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries. However, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are 328,000 drowsy driving accidents each year. Of those accidents, 109,000 caused an injury, and 6,400 involved a fatality. No matter which set of numbers is most accurate, it's clear that drowsy driving poses a major danger to American motorists.

Like drunk driving, drowsy driving negatively impacts a driver's ability to react quickly and pay attention to the road. The more sleep deprived drivers are, the more impaired they become. For instance, studies have shown that staying awake for 20 straight hours makes drivers behave as if they have a .08 blood alcohol level, which is California's legal limit. Studies have also found that drivers are more than three times more likely to be involved in an accident if they are fatigued.

Drowsy driving can cause horrific car accidents, including head-on and rear-end collisions and SUV rollovers. Victims of drowsy driving crashes may wish to speak to an attorney about filing a personal injury lawsuit. This type of complaint could help a victim obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other crash-related damages.

Source: National Safety Council, "Drowsy Driving is Impaired Driving," August 10, 2018

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