The American Sleep Foundation reports that approximately 50% of motorists stated they consistently drove their vehicles even if they were fatigued. In fact, 20% of these motorists said they fell asleep while driving at least once over the past year.
These numbers are concerning, as drowsy driving is a factor in many car accidents in Connecticut and across the nation. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that across the United States in 2015, approximately 5,000 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents involving fatigued drivers.
Some people may be surprised to find that drowsy driving affects a motorist in many of the same ways as drunk driving. A fatigued motorist will have a reduced reaction time, a reduced awareness of hazards on the road and difficulty paying attention to the task of driving. In fact, if a motorist gets behind the wheel after being awake for 20 hours, it is akin to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%.
Drowsy driving is dangerous, and certainly breaches a motorist's legal duty to drive safely. If a motorist causes an accident due to drowsy driving, and that accident injures or kills another person, the drowsy driver may be held liable for the crash. Victims injured in crashes caused by drowsy drivers or their family in the case of a fatality may need to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages or lost earning potential among other damages associated with the crash.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that each year around 328,000 accidents occur that involve a drowsy driver. This number is three times greater than the number of drowsy driving accidents reported to police, indicating that the problem is much more prevalent than reports show. That study also reported that around 109,000 of those accidents caused injuries and around 6,400 of those accidents resulted in fatalities. As this shows, drowsy driving is a major problem in our nation, and those who suffer damages in a crash involving a drowsy driver may want to explore their legal options for compensation.