Asleep at the wheel: The danger of drowsy driving in Arkansas

Driving while drowsy or fatigued may cause impairment akin to alcohol consumption, and can result in serious auto accidents.

When people in Fayetteville think of dangerous drivers, those who drive drunk or are distracted while driving typically come to mind. Often overlooked, however, is the risk that driving while fatigued poses. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that on average more than 320,000 collisions involving a drowsy driver occur each year. Of those, an average of 6,400 are fatal and 109,000 involve injuries.

Studies have shown that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Drivers who have been awake for 18 hours have a similar level of impairment to those with a blood alcohol level of .05, according to the National Sleep Foundation. A blood alcohol concentration of .08 is considered legally drunk. Fatigue and sleep deprivation can lead to attention lapses and other behaviors, which may contribute to causing auto accidents. Such collisions can result in serious injuries for the drowsy drivers themselves, as well as passengers, other drivers and bystanders.

Potential causes of drowsy driving

There are a number of factors, which may contribute to drowsy driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of the most common causes include the following:

  • Sleep loss
  • Untreated sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea
  • The use of sleep aids and other sedating medications
  • The amount of time that a driver has been on the road
  • The time of day when a motorist is on the road

Additionally, the consumption of alcohol may have an impact on fatigue and drowsiness. When a fatigued driver consumes alcohol, it may cause them to be drowsier. This can increase their level of impairment, according to the NHTSA.

Who is at risk?

In general, all drivers can be at risk for drowsy driving. However, the NHTSA states that the danger may be greater for certain groups, including young people. More specifically, young men are more likely to be involved in fatigue-related car accidents. Due to their work and sleep schedules, shift workers also tend to have an increased risk.

Seeking legal counsel

Often, those who are injured in auto accidents involving drowsy drivers require medical treatment and care. This can result in undue expenses, and may leave them unable to work and provide for their families. As such, people who have been involved in fatigue-related collisions may find it of benefit to discuss their situation with a legal professional. An attorney may advise them of their rights, as well as their options for pursuing financial compensation.

Keywords: drowsy, fatigue, driving, accident