Every year, the National Sleep Foundation hosts an event called Drowsy Driving Prevention Week as a way to raise awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving. Residents of Tennessee should know that there are some 328,000 drowsy driving crashes every year in the U.S. according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of these, an estimated 109,000 involve injuries, and 6,400 end in death.
Drowsiness is hazardous in how it slows down drivers’ reaction times and makes them less attentive to the road. Driving after being deprived of sleep for 20 continuous hours is like driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08, which is legally drunk.
Many people look to technology to improve safety, including crash avoidance technologies like drowsiness alerts and lane departure warning systems. Since young drivers make up a sizeable portion of drowsy drivers, many parents have tried to include rules on drowsy driving in the agreements they have with their teens. Universities have also set up education programs as a way to encourage healthier behavior behind the wheel.
Drivers, for their part, should know what the symptoms of drowsiness are. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine gives several, including constant yawning, difficulty keeping one’s eyes open, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven and continual drifting out of one’s lane.
Drowsy driving is arguably an under-reported phenomenon as drivers in the wake of car accidents may lie to the police about their condition. Those who were injured in a crash through little or no fault of their own may seek compensatory damages, but they might want a lawyer to evaluate their case in light of the state’s comparative negligence rule. Victims may have their lawyer negotiate on their behalf with the insurance companies, litigating only as a last resort.