Driving while drowsy, sleepy or fatigued represents an exponential increase in risks behind the wheel. According to a recent AAA report, a driver who sleeps just five to six hours a day doubles the risk of being involved in a serious traffic accident, compared to someone who had seven or more hours of sleep.
The main reason for drowsy driving is, of course, lack of sleep, although there are other medical reasons as well. Crash rates can increase the less a person sleeps. To further understand the real dangers of sleep deprivation, consider the following: Drivers who sleep just four to five hours are at the same risk of being involved in a crash as a drunk driver.
Driver fatigue is due to more factors than just lack of sleep. While poor-quality sleep can make a driver sleepy, lack of exercise, poor-quality diet, and alcohol consumption can all have an impact on the level of tiredness of someone who has to be on the road for many hours, or even several days in a row – such as when taking a road trip or driving a truck.
Unfortunately, many people do not follow these guidelines, and some California drowsy drivers have been the cause of traffic accidents. Car accidents caused by drowsy driving often have the following characteristics:
- The vehicle derails off the road or highway.
- A drowsy and/or fatigued driver has done little or nothing to avoid the collision.
- High speeds often occur due to a lack of driver control.
- There are significant material losses and serious injuries.
- Collisions usually happen late at night, early in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon.
While drivers of personal vehicles are subject to regular laws, drivers of commercial vehicles must follow rules that regulate the amount of time they spend behind the wheel. These rules are a step toward safety, but they don’t take into account drowsy driving caused by sleep problems, such as sleep apnea. If you were in an accident caused by a driver you suspect was fatigued—whether a commuter or a semi-truck driver—it is important that you contact a personal injury attorney who can represent your case.