Driving While Under the Influence of...Too Little Sleep

When the term “impaired driving” comes up in conversation it instantly conjures up visions of horrific Southern California car accidents that are fueled by alcohol and narcotics. It is a fair assumption that most impaired accidents are the result of alcohol and narcotic use; however, there is a more overlooked and less sinister culprit - drowsy driving.

Driving while tired can present a myriad of problems and hazards that can result in drivers either hurting themselves or others. The key to combating drowsy driving is to better understand your body and realize the first signs of feeling tired.

National Statistics
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has studied the effects of drowsy driving and the results are shocking, to say the least.
  • 37% of drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once during their driving career
  • 8% admitted to falling asleep while driving in the past 6 months
  • 60% admitted to falling asleep while operating a vehicle on an interstate type road that was rated for travel at 55 mph or greater

Studies have shown that fatigue drivers account for over 100,000 car crashes every year. The characteristics of these crashes differ from many other crashes. The characteristics of a fatigued driver car crash in Los Angeles include:

  • Likely to be serious – The fatality rate for fatigued driving crashes is very high. This is likely due to the fact that these crashes often involve a high rate of speed and a delayed reaction time.
  • Single vehicle involved – A large majority of fatigued driver accidents involve a single vehicle. The vehicle involved in the crash is more likely to run off the side of the road and collide with stationary objects rather than other vehicles.
  • Involve a high rate of speed – Fatigued driver accidents often take place on roadways that have a high speed limit. 
  • Failure to avoid crashing – Fatigued drivers are not as alert as they should be, making it difficult to take corrective action before the collision.
  • Driver is alone – Most fatigued driver accidents involve a vehicle with a single occupant. Conversing and taking turns driving may help to stay alert.
Public Perception
These results speak to the prevalence of drowsy impaired driving and the public view on the matter. Most people’s perception about drowsy driving is that it is mostly harmless and an expected complication of driving for long hours or after a difficult workday.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Steps That You Can Take To Prevent Drowsy Driving
There are quite a number of things that you can do as a driver to help prevent drowsy driving and avoid a potentially deadly situation. The first step is to stop and take a break if you feel as if you are becoming too tired to operate a vehicle. While driving, it is best to keep your seat in an upright position with the car’s climate controls set to a cool setting.  Good posture can also help to combat drowsy driving. It is best to drive with your head upright, shoulders back and your legs positioned in a 45-degree angle.

If You Have Been in An Accident
If you or someone you know has been injured in a California drowsy driving accident, you should contact one of our experienced Santa Monica car accident attorneys at Steinberg Injury Lawyers at (800) 989-6385.

Be sure to order a FREE copy of our controversial book, 7 BIGGEST MISTAKES That Can Ruin Your California Injury Case.
Peter Steinberg, Esq.
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982