Justice Demands Diligence

Is drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Collisions

The dangers of drunk driving are well known, and most adults in Florida do not drive under the influence of alcohol. However, another major contributor to car accidents in the United States is drowsy driving. Yet, drowsy driving often goes overlooked in the media or public awareness campaigns, even though it can be just as dangerous as drunk driving at times.

Drowsy driving vs. drunk driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS) reports that in 2017 alone, 91,000 motor vehicle accidents occurred that involved a drowsy driver, leading to 795 fatalities, although some experts estimate that the number of drowsy driving crashes annually is closer to 6,000.

In comparison, drunk driving was a factor that year in 9,949 fatal motor vehicle accidents. So, while alcohol use may be more prevalent, drowsy driving leads to a significant number of fatal accidents every year.

The danger of drowsy driving

The dangers of drunk driving are well known. Drunk drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater have problems staying in their lane. They may ignore traffic signs or signals and they cannot coordinate their actions or exercise appropriate judgment behind the wheel. They could even pass out while driving.

Like alcohol, drowsiness can affect a motorist’s ability to pay attention and exercise good judgment. Drowsiness can also inhibit a motorist’s coordination and reaction time. Like a drunk driver, if a motorist is drowsy, they may swerve between lanes, drive above the posted speed limit, tailgate or strike an object or another driver.

If a motorist has been awake for 20 hours, their driving abilities are comparable to a driver whose BAC is 0.08%. It is easy to see, then, how drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving.

As this shows, just as drunk driving should be avoided so should drowsy driving. Sadly, there are too many people who overestimate their ability to drive while drowsy. If you are in a car crash involving a drowsy driver, you could be seriously injured. If so, you will want to explore what avenues of compensation are available to you.