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Why Is Drowsy Driving Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?

Drowsy driving occurs whenever a driver gets behind the wheel while fatigued or experiencing sleep deprivation. While it may seem harmless to drive while feeling tired, like after a particularly long shift or a bad night’s rest, doing so could pose serious risks to others on the road.

Driver fatigue is a widespread problem accounting for more than 100,000 crashes a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. Similar to driving drunk, drowsy driving impairs a drivers’ alertness and reaction times.

Fatigue can sneak up and affect a driver long before they are even aware that they are too tired to drive safely. Drivers may not notice the early warning signs of drowsy driving, which include:

  • Trouble staying in your lane
  • Repeatedly blinking
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Frequent yawning

Research has found that the similarities between driving drowsy and driving drunk are so significant that each presents the same degree of risk. In fact, once a person has been up for 24 hours or more, the level of impairment equates to that of a blood alcohol content of 0.1 percent, which exceeds the legal blood alcohol limit of .08 percent in Texas for drivers age 21 and up.

One of the challenges with reducing the occurrence of drowsy driving is that it’s difficult to enforce. Traffic law violations such as speeding and drunk driving are easier to spot and quantify. It is also simpler to create laws that specify a legal limit for these two offenses.

Drivers can avoid fatigue and help prevent motor vehicle accidents by taking the following precautions:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before undertaking a lengthy drive.
  • Avoid prescription and over-the-counter medications that may cause drowsiness.
  • Take periodic breaks when driving for more than two hours.

Proving that a driver’s sleep deprivation was the catalyst for an accident is more complicated than establishing if a driver was intoxicated or speeding. Therefore, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney can be helpful. An attorney can help gather the type of evidence needed to support a successful recovery in this type of case.

Leland Reinhard Law Firm helps clients throughout Johnson, Hill, Somervell and Hood counties who were injured in an accident involving drowsy driving. Call 817-645-5400 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation at my Cleburne, Texas office.