The short answer is – drowsy driving is far more common than most people believe. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), driving while drowsy or fatigued is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes and more than 40,000 injuries each year. That said, drivers who are involved in vehicle crashes are often reluctant to admit to drowsiness, which means that the actual numbers which show up on a police report are most likely vastly underreported. The CDC believes that drowsy driving may actually be responsible for up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
Although drowsy driving does not receive nearly the amount of attention as other poor driving behaviors such as drunk driving and distracted driving, it can still be very deadly, and it happens a lot more often than most of us realize. One of the things that makes driving while drowsy so dangerous is that people don’t know the exact moment that sleep overcomes their body. This is true whether you are in bed, on a couch, or at the wheel.
Clearly, falling asleep at the wheel is the worst possible result when someone is driving while drowsy, but even if that does not happen, the effects of drowsiness can still be disastrous. When someone is drowsy behind the wheel, all of their focus is required just to stay awake, making them less able to pay attention to the road. Drowsy drivers also have slower reaction times, and if an adverse situation requires them to steer or hit the brake suddenly, they may not be able to do so in time to avoid a crash.
The CDC reports that an estimated one out of every 25 adult drivers admit to having fallen asleep while driving within the past 30 days. Another study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of those who responded to their poll have driven while feeling sleepy within the past year, and 37% admit that they have fallen asleep at the wheel. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that drowsy driving costs our economy approximately $12.5 billion each year.
Who is Most Likely to Drive While Drowsy?
As the National Sleep Foundation poll shows, a majority of people have driven when they were sleepy or fatigued, and this can happen to anyone who does not get enough sleep. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and teens should get at least eight hours. Studies show that those who sleep six hours or fewer each night and/or those who snore are most at risk for drowsy driving.
In addition to those who do not get enough sleep, there are some specific groups who are particularly susceptible to driving while drowsy or fatigued:
- Young Men: Men who are in their teens, 20s, and 30s are most likely to drive when they are tired and sleepy, and this behavior usually occurs during late evening and overnight hours.
- Shift Workers: Individuals who work long shifts and rotating shifts that often include evenings and overnights make up another group that is at risk of drowsy driving.
- Commercial Drivers: Tow truck drivers, bus drivers, and drivers of tractor-trailers are often on the road for long hours without taking a break. This makes them more likely to get sleepy behind the wheel.
- Individuals with Untreated Sleep Disorders: People with sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or other sleep disorders that are not treated tend to get sleepier during the day when they are out driving.
- Individuals who use Sleep-Inducing Medications: Many medications that individuals are given to treat various conditions cause sleepiness as a side effect. Those who take these types of medications need to be aware of this before getting behind the wheel.
- Frequent Travelers: Those who travel frequently from one time zone to another have difficulty adjusting their bodies to a proper sleep schedule. Individuals in this category may include business travelers and over-the-road truckers.
Injured in Drowsy Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of a drowsy driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. The insurance company for the other side is not likely to give you a fair offer, however, and it is important to at least speak with a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer, so you understand your rights and options.
If the accident occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake & Fowler for assistance. Message us online or call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-788-4370 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We look forward to serving you!