Drowsy driving is an all too common danger, study says

Based on one study’s findings, drowsiness-related crashes are more prevalent than reported, and put people at risk of suffering serious injuries or death.

Most people know that it is hazardous to fall asleep while they are driving. Although, people throughout California and elsewhere often overlook the risk of driving while they are drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that more than 82,000 drowsiness-related collisions occur each year across the U.S. Based on the findings of a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the impact of drowsy drivers on the roads may be more significant than is reported, putting others at risk of suffering serious injuries or death.

Estimating the prevalence of drowsy driving crashes

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study to understand the impact of drowsy drivers on U.S. roads. For the study, they analyzed the data for 14,268 motor vehicle accidents that occurred between 2009 and 2013 and resulted in at least one automobile being towed from the scene. Trained investigators assessed the attentiveness of the drivers involved just prior to the collisions. The researchers employed multiple imputation in order to estimate the prevalence of drowsiness-related crashes.

Why is drowsy driving hazardous?

Even if people do not fall asleep behind the wheel, being tired can affect their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsiness may impair drivers' judgment and their ability to focus on the task of driving. Additionally, being drowsy may slow people's reaction times, which could cause them to crash if they are unable to brake or otherwise adjust to changes in the driving conditions or emergency situations.

Drowsy driving is more common than reported

Based on the study's findings, drowsiness contributes to 21 percent of all fatal accidents and 13 percent of all injury wrecks requiring hospitalization. When applied to all reported motor vehicle collisions, the study's estimates suggest that 6,400 fatal crashes and 109,000 injury accidents involving drowsy drivers occur each year. This stands in contrast to the government reported statistics, which suggest the impact of drowsy drivers on the roads is minimal. According to the study, the NHTSA reports only 2.5 percent of collisions resulting in death and 2.2 percent of crashes resulting in juries involve drowsiness.

Working with an attorney

The injuries Californians may suffer in drowsiness-related accidents may have a devastating impact on them and their families. They may face unexpected medical expenses and lose income while they are off of work recovering. Under some circumstances, the drowsy driver may be held responsible for these, and other resulting damages. Therefore, people who have been injured in collisions involving drowsy drivers may benefit from seeking legal guidance. An attorney may help them to understand their rights and options for pursuing financial justice.