On August 8th, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) issued a new report highlighting the dangers of drowsy driving.
According to the report, drowsy driving can have the same tragic consequences as distracted or drunk driving. The report notes that nearly 83.6 million drivers are behind the wheel every year leading to an estimated average of 328,000 crashes, 109,000 injuries and 6,400 deaths per year.
Because of the dangers of drowsy driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded its definition of impaired driving to include drowsy driving in addition to drunk, drugged and distracted. In fact, the NHTSA has estimated that the annual costs to society of tired drivers-related injuries and crashes totals $109 billion.
The report states that sleep deprived drivers are effected similarly to those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For example, driving 21 hours without sleep is equivalent to those driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent which is the edge of the legal limit. Driving 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to those driving with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent.
Unfortunately, the extent of drowsy driving is hard to diagnose and track. Fatigued drivers play a part in anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of all traffic fatalities. There aren’t protocols and training set up to help officers determine the extent of fatigue at the scene.
“Drowsy driving is a serious safety issue on America’s roadways,” emphasized Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “We encourage drivers to remember the role that rest plays in safe driving, and to prioritize getting enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. As this report highlights, learning to recognize the warning signs of drowsiness can also help us take appropriate action if we become a drowsy driver.”
If you believe you have been injured by a drowsy driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your case.