When people in Florida think of risky driving behaviors, they typically think of speeding or drinking and driving, not drowsy driving. However, drivers who are overly tired or fatigued may contribute to serious collisions, which may result in serious injury or death for them or those with whom they share the road.
The prevalence of drowsy driving crashes in the U.S. is startling. According to the National Safety Council, a AAA Foundation for Traffic Study estimates that drowsiness contributes to 109,000 injury accidents and 6,400 fatal accidents across the country each year.
Many fail to recognize the risk of getting behind the wheel while overly tired or fatigued. However, drowsiness may cause effects similar to those experienced when drinking alcohol. This includes slowed reaction time, decreased awareness of hazards and a reduced ability to pay attention. In fact, driving after being awake for 20 consecutive hours is tantamount to getting behind the wheel with a BAC of .08%, the legal limit for intoxication. Drivers who are fatigued are three times more likely than those who are well-rested to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving can occur because a driver has not gotten adequate sleep, as a result of certain health conditions, due to medications or alcohol consumption, or because of the nature or people’s work. Among those at a greater risk of drowsy driving are commercial motor vehicle operators and shift workers, who often work long shifts or overnight hours. Drivers who have newborns or young children at home that keep them from getting enough sleep and people who suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may also find themselves too tired to safely get behind the wheel.