Drowsy Driving: Dangerous, Deadly, and Difficult to Identify
According to the Department of Energy, the average car in the United States tips the scales at just over 2 tons. That’s 4,000 pounds of metal, rubber, and gasoline hurtling down the nation’s roadways and highways. Under the best of circumstances, operating a vehicle is the most dangerous thing the average person does on a daily basis. When people operate a vehicle while drowsy, the danger increases dramatically.
Under-Reported Drowsy Driver Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that even though drowsy driving is difficult to identify as the cause of car crashes in many situations, at least 40,000 people are injured every year as the result of drowsing driving, while another 1,550 are killed.
However, the NHTSA cautions that drowsy driving could be a much larger problem than the current evidence shows. The agency reports that drowsy driving is an under-reported car crash cause, and that crashes attributed to drowsy driving do not include driver inattention, which may also result from tired or sleeping drivers.
Testing, Reporting, and Contributing Factors at Play
Part of the problem in identifying accidents caused by drowsy drivers is the lack of appropriate tests. Unlike drunk driving, for example, there is no machine or testing procedure that can readily identify drivers who drive while sleepy.
Further, there is no standard set of reporting practices between states when it comes to drowsy driving. Though all state accident statistics include drowsy or fatigued driver information, police officers are often not trained to identify driver fatigue.
Beyond that, there are numerous inconsistencies in state codes that address drowsy or fatigued drivers. Two states, Missouri and Wisconsin, have no codes that address drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel or who cause accidents because they are fatigued or drowsy.
International Numbers Sobering
However, there is some data to indicate that drowsy driving might be a far more common cause of car crashes in the United States than we realize. Several European nations, such as Finland and England, as well as Australia, all have far more uniform and consistent crash reporting procedures than the disparate procedures used in the various states. The figures from these countries show that drowsy or fatigued drivers are the cause of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of all automobile crashes. If the foreign statistics are representative of car crashes in the United States, it could mean that drowsy drivers cause anywhere from 550,000 to 1.65 million car crashes each year.
Demographics Skewed Toward Younger Drivers
Not all people are at the same risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident. The National Science Foundation conducted a study that looked into drowsy driving. The study concluded that younger drivers—those between the ages of 18 to 29—were most at risk of being involved in a drowsy driving crash. Not surprisingly, the likelihood that a person will operate a vehicle while drowsy increases if the person is a parent of young children. Similarly, shift workers are more likely to drive while drowsy, and men are slightly more prone to it than women.
If you are a victim of a drowsy driver accident, get in touch with a local Personal Injury Attorney. You may have a case and should be adequately compensated for your injuries.
This Blog was posted By The Carabin & Shaw Law Firm. principle Office in San Antonio, Texas