Drowsy driving has been a road safety issue since the earliest days of motor vehicles. However, a recent survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) as well as other data gathered frame the issue as one that deserves growing concern. According to the AAA, one third of all drivers surveyed admitted that they had driven at least once in the last month when they were having trouble staying awake. This piggybacks on another study that says that 27 percent of Americans claim that they have trouble sleeping.
Sleep aids also an issue
Many have turned to sleep aids to combat their inability to get a restful night’s sleep. These come with warnings about allotting seven or eight hours before operating heavy machinery or driving, but Consumer Reports found in its own survey on the topic that 20 percent of drivers who use these drugs get behind the wheel before that seven-hour threshold.
Just as dangerous as a DUI
To the surprise of a few out there, sleep experts claim that drowsiness impairs judgment. Those who stay awake for 24 hours, for example, have impairment similar to a blood alcohol content of .10, which is over the .08 limit. Law enforcement cannot test for drowsiness, but there are common signs:
- Droopy eyelids
- Missing turns or road signs
- Drifting out of the lane
- No recollection of previous minutes of driving
Vigilance is needed
Those who exhibit any of the above signs should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. They are a danger to themselves, other drivers, and passengers. It is also recommended that victims in an accident or their families should contact an attorney if they suspect that the cause of the crash was another driver’s drowsiness. Depending on the details of the case, victims can seek damages for time away from work, medical expenses, and other losses.