Asleep at the Wheel: What You Need to Know About Drowsy Driving

Time-lapse photo of street at night showing streaks of headlights and taillightsFalling asleep behind the wheel is obviously dangerous – nodding off for just a moment can result in a catastrophic car accident. Unfortunately, simply driving while drowsy presents a bigger danger than you may think. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 795 people were killed in car accidents that involved drowsy driver in 2017 alone. In a recent study, AAA reported that approximately one third of drivers admit to driving while almost unable to keep their eyes open within the last 30 days. It is estimated that drowsy driving contributes to around 90,000 crashes per year, although precise numbers are extremely difficult to pin down.  

Why Drowsy Driving is a Problem

Even if you don’t fall asleep, driving while drowsy can affect your ability to drive safely. Studies have show that drowsiness can affect your driving in the following ways:

  • Inability to pay full attention. When you are fatigued, your mind starts to wander and you get lost in your thoughts. As a result, you fail to spot upcoming hazards or notice that you are driving unsafely.
  • Slowed reaction time. Driving while fatigued means that your reflexes are slower, leaving you unable to react as quickly if you need to brake suddenly or take other evasive actions.
  • Poor decision making. We don’t think clearly when we’re tired, and accidents tend to happen when we make poor decisions.

Where and When

It’s probably no surprise to hear that the most accidents involving drowsy driving occur between midnight and six a.m. However, there is also a notable uptick in drowsy driving accidents in the late afternoons. This is particularly troubling as drowsiness during the late afternoon can coincide with the evening rush hour in the Atlanta area or other metropolitan areas. That said, the accidents caused by driving while fatigued frequently occur on rural roads and highways.

Who is Driving Drowsy

According to AAA, more than 40% of drivers report getting less than six hours of sleep at least once per week. As a result, it’s not surprising that people who haven’t gotten enough sleep are the most likely to drive while fatigued. However, the CDC provides some additional information that may surprise you regarding who else is driving drowsy:

  • Commercial drivers (trucks, buses, tractor trailers)
  • Shift workers after working a long shift or the nights
  • People suffering from sleep disorders
  • People taking medication that makes them drowsy (either as a sleep aid or to treat a health condition)

Commercial drivers are particularly worrisome given the size and weight of the vehicles they drive. That said, it’s interesting to note that driving while fatigued appears to cut across almost every demographic – young, old, professional, and tradespeople. Almost any driver on the road could be driving while drowsy.

Drowsy Driving is Negligent Driving

When someone gets behind the wheel of a car, they have a legal obligation to operate their vehicle with due care. If that person stays on the road despite their drowsiness, they are driving negligently and can be held liable for the consequences of their decisions.

Contact Slappey & Sadd – Atlanta Area Car Accident Attorneys

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by drowsy driving, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries. With decades of experience in representing accident victims across Georgia, the car accident attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can help you put your life back together. Don’t leave your health and future in someone else’s hands – call us at 888-474-9616 or contact us online in order to schedule a free consultation.