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Drowsy driving: looking at the risks, the toll

All of our readers have probably, at some point, experienced drowsiness or fatigue while driving. Those who have experienced significant fatigue behind the wheel know that it is a very dangerous state in which to drive, and that it can quickly and easily lead to serious motor vehicle accidents.

The impact of fatigue on driving is significant enough that authorities say it can be compared to alcohol intoxication. The Governors Highway Safety Association provides the following estimates: 18 hours without sleep is like having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%; 21 hours without sleep is like a BAC of 0.08%; and 24 hours without sleep is like a BAC of 0.10%. 

Whether or not these numbers are completely accurate, the point is that fatigued driving can have a serious adverse affect on driving ability. The greater the degree of fatigue, the more likely a driver is to have reduced alertness, attention, and reaction time, and the more he or she is going to be impaired in judgment and executive ability. All of this can lead to performance errors.

Even if only a small number of drivers in every state were sleep-deprived on any given day, there would be cause for concern. The fact, though, is that tens of millions of Americans are sleep-deprived every day. The annual costs of fatigued driving amount to $109 billion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it is estimated that around 5,000 lives were lost in 2015 due to drowsy driving. 

The problem is especially concerning when it comes to commercial truck and bus drivers. We’ll look at this issue in our next post, and how an experienced advocate can help those who are harmed as a result of drowsy driving.