Revealing study illustrates numerous dangers of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving may be a more serious problem than people think. A recent study revealed nearly half of adult drivers regularly drive while sleepy.

Many Americans go through their daily lives chronically sleep-deprived. People in Ohio and elsewhere live busy lives. Work, school, family and social lives have made a large dent in people's sleep schedules. Unfortunately, driving skill may suffer as a result.

A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association claims that about 84 million people across the country get behind the wheel when they are too sleepy to drive. About 5,000 people in 2015 are reported to have been killed in crashes caused by drowsy driving. How serious is the sleep-deprivation issue in America? The report stated that 34.8 percent of people in the U.S. get fewer than seven hours of sleep every night.

In a 2015 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 31.5 percent of responders said they had experienced trouble staying awake behind the wheel during the past month. Out of those, 43.2 percent said they had nodded off or fallen asleep at the wheel at least once, and 3.5 percent admitted to regularly driving while drowsy.

Is drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that shift workers, commercial drivers, people who use certain types of medications and those with untreated sleep conditions are among those most likely to drive while drowsy. People who regularly get inadequate sleep, such as high school and college students, are also in the high-risk group.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, an Australian study showed that those who drove after being awake for 18 hours showed signs of impairment comparable to drivers with a blood alcohol content of .05 percent. Being awake for 24 hours raised the impairment equivalent to a .10 percent BAC.

Preventative measures

Drivers may take several precautions on long trips to avoid the risk of drowsy-driving motor vehicle collisions. These can include the following:

  • Taking a friend on a trip to switch places driving
  • Stopping every couple of hours or 100 miles for a break
  • Not hesitating to take a nap when needed
  • Avoiding driving after taking medications that cause sleepiness

Of course, the best precaution for avoiding a sleep-related crash on both long and short trips is to get a full night's sleep every night. Taking the recommended safety measures may prevent accidents and make the road safer, but it is not possible to prevent or predict accidents caused by others. Those who are injured by another driver may wish to pursue compensation by speaking with an experienced Columbus personal injury attorney.