The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigued drivers cost Americans $12.5 billion in damages and medical losses every year. Drowsy drivers cause roughly 100,000 car accidents annually leading to over 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries in these types of collisions.
New York car accident attorneys know that thousands of people suffer from sleeping disorders which can only make roadways more dangerous for everyone who uses them. It only takes a second for a fatigued driver to swerve off the road or sway into oncoming traffic after nodding off behind the wheel which creates a high risk for a car accident in Manhattan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a sleep study earlier this year which indicated that 5 percent of drivers admit to dozing while driving in the month prior to the study. Microsleep, a few seconds of sleep or less, can be just as dangerous for drivers as dozing off for minutes at a time because driver inattention has been lost for several hundred feet of roadway and anything can happen in that short amount of time when a vehicle is not being controlled by the driver.
A 2005 study by the National Sleep Foundation reported more compelling results about drowsy driving. The results of the Sleep in America poll indicated the following:
- 168 million drivers admit to driving a vehicle while they felt tired in the past year.
- 103 million drivers admit they have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the last year.
- 13 percent of the respondents that admitted to falling asleep while driving said that it is a monthly occurrence for them.
- The age group that most admitted to driving drowsy was 18-29 year-olds.
- Shift workers drive drowsy more often than day time or regular working hour employees.
- Males drive drowsy (56 percent) more often than female drivers (45 percent).
Fatigued drivers are often compared to drunk drivers because driving drowsy affects your reaction time and motor skills similar to how driving intoxicated affects the skills needed to drive safely. Someone who has been awake for 18 hours is equivalent to a driver testing with a blood alcohol concentration of .05 which is nearly over the legal limit.
Drowsy driving research could be further advanced with the implementation of a couple of key factors. One problem is drunk drivers can be given a breathalyzer test to see how much they have been drinking, but there is no test to be administered to drowsy drivers to determine a fatigue level. Developing a measurement to test fatigue levels could keep drowsy drivers off the streets and roadways safer in the long run. Another area needing improvement is police training in determining fatigue as a cause of an accident.
Self-reporting is really the only way of knowing when an accident is caused by fatigue and most drivers won’t admit to it because it could have costly ramifications to their driving record or insurance rates. Developing a system for officers to use and report fatigued driving crashes would be helpful in future reports regarding car crashes related to driver drowsiness.
One way drivers can prevent drowsy driving accidents is to stop at a rest area or pull into a restaurant parking area. Many drivers who are fatigued make the mistake of trying to fight through drowsiness which results in a car crash. Stretching or getting some fresh air can give drivers a much needed boost and get the safe driving juices flowing again.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC represent car accident victims in New York City. If you need the advice of an experienced car accident attorney, call for a free no-obligation appointment at 1-877-313-ROSE (7673).
More Blog Entries:
Drivers Impaired by Alcohol or Marijuana Place Other Motorists at High Risk of Manhattan Car Accidents New York Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2011.