Understanding the dangers of drowsy driving in California

Drowsy driving is a very real and serious problem that causes thousands of injuries and deaths every year.

Many licensed drivers have, at one time or another, felt tired behind the wheel. Unfortunately, sometimes the exhaustion affects the person's ability to remain safe on the road, and an accident ensues. Everyone should have an understanding of how dangerous it is to drive drowsy in California and know how it can be prevented.

How serious is the issue?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that one in 25 drivers surveyed said they had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point over the past 30 days. This type of behavior accounted for 800 fatalities in 2013 and an astounding 72,000 motor vehicle accidents and 44,000 injuries.

What causes it?

There are a number of reasons that someone may feel drowsy while driving. For example, certain medications are sleep-inducing and people may not realize it. Additionally, many drivers do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep at night. People, especially commercial vehicle drivers, may have to be on the road for a significant amount of time, which in itself can be exhausting.

What happens when a driver is tired?

Drivers who are not rested are simply not safe behind the wheel because the following can occur:

  • They have a delayed reaction time to events on the road.
  • They cannot make the decisions necessary to operate a vehicle.
  • They lack the ability to pay attention to their surroundings.

In a worst-case scenario, the driver will fall asleep and the vehicle will veer into other traffic or off the road, causing a serious accident.

How can drowsy driving be prevented?

One of the most important ways to prevent a sleep-related crash is to get enough rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, someone who has been awake for 18 hours will exhibit the same driving behaviors as someone who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, which is the legal limit.

Drivers should also avoid taking any medications that could cause sleepiness and avoid alcohol. As soon as someone notices the symptoms of drowsiness - heavy eyelids or an inability to remember the last few miles driven, for example - he or she should immediately pull over to a safe place to get rest.

When a long road trip is necessary, drivers should plan ahead. Taking another licensed driver to share the responsibility is a good idea. There should also be planned stops every few hours so the driver can get out of the vehicle and move around.

If an accident does occur, victims are entitled to hold the drowsy driver responsible for any damages suffered. People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in California.

Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 25 years of experience in representing victims of DUI and drunk drivers injured in all forms of motor vehicle, motorcycle, truck, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.