When people in Washington get behind the wheel, they may be afraid of encountering another driver who is drunk or texting while driving. While these behaviors pose significant dangers, they are not the only types of negligent behavior that can lead to serious car accidents. Drowsy driving, or operating a vehicle when too tired to do so safely, poses a serious threat to others on the road. Each year, the National Safety Council implements Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to draw attention to the serious impairments associated with driving while drowsy. In 2020, the week will be November 1-8.
Almost 50% of drivers in the United States admit to sometimes driving while feeling sleepy, especially if they get too little sleep at night but need to commute to school or work in the morning. A full one-fifth of the respondents to one National Sleep Foundation survey said that they had fallen asleep while driving at one point in the past year while 40% said it had happened at least once in their lives. In 2015 alone, at least 5,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving while many thousands more were seriously injured.
Drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving in several ways, especially because both behaviors can lead to a significant loss of reaction time, making it more difficult for drivers to respond to emergencies or pay attention to the road. People who go without sleep for 20 hours are reportedly just as impaired as people with a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, the legal limit for driving.
Drowsy drivers can cause major car crashes that lead to severe injuries and permanent disabilities along with the resulting medical bills and other costs. A personal injury attorney may help accident victims seek compensation for their damages.