Drowsy driving similar to impaired driving

Any Las Vegas car accident lawyer would be able to recount stories of people who have been severely injured by drowsy drivers. Drowsy driving is among the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one in every six fatal car accidents results from a driver who is impaired with fatigue. In comparison, one in every three fatal car accidents results from a driver who is impaired with alcohol. Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes, more than 40,000 injuries and over 1,500 deaths every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the following drivers are at a higher risk for drowsy driving: shift workers who work at night or long hours, drivers who operate commercial vehicles, drivers prescribed medications for sedation, drivers who are not sleeping as much as they should, and drivers who may have an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder. A Las Vegas car accident lawyer would even state that some medical conditions can cause drowsiness in drivers. (article continues below)

Drunk or Drowsy Driving

Just as dangerous as drunk driving

In order to capture the similarity between drowsy driving and drunk driving, it may be helpful to understand the physical consequences of fatigue. Australian researchers found that, on cognitive tests, volunteers who had not slept for nearly 20 hours showed response times 50 percent below those of adequately rested individuals. In other words, the cognitive performance of a sleep-deprived person is equivalent to that of a person with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent, which is near the legal limit.

The NHTSA described two common types of sleep deficiency that can put drivers at risk of impaired driving. The first is called short-term sleepiness, which results from a one-time event, such as pulling an all-nighter. The second is called chronic sleepiness, which eventually follows from the gradual accumulation of restricted sleep. Those who routinely stay up late, even though they must wake up early for work, are at an increased risk of chronic sleepiness.

A study in the Journal of Internal Medicine showed that there was no difference between driving while sleepy and driving drunk. Reinforcing that study, Wired reported a study by Dutch researchers showing that nighttime driving for three hours is tantamount to drunken driving. A Las Vegas car accident lawyer will tell anyone that drowsy driving and drunk driving can lead to the same result – serious injuries to an innocent person or worse.