Many things can cause car accidents, including poor road conditions, weather and inebriated drivers. One very common cause is drowsy driving.

How common is it?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving resulted in 72,000 crashes in 2013. There were 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths because of those crashes. There is speculation that those numbers may represent only a portion of actual fatalities due to drowsy driving, which is believed to be underreported.

How does being drowsy affect drivers?

It makes drivers less able to carefully pay attention to the road, other vehicles and safety conditions. It also slows their reaction time, which is perilous in all instances when they need to respond quickly in order to avoid a calamitous accident.

Who tends to drive drowsy?

Any driver who doesn’t get enough sleep to be fully alert and capable of driving safely is a drowsy driver. That said, commercial drivers who drive tractor trailers, buses and tow trucks without having gotten sufficient rest are particularly at risk. Shift workers, who work night shifts or very long day shifts, are also particularly at risk. Of course, those with sleep disorders and those who are taking medications that can result in drowsiness are at risk, too.

How can drowsy driving be prevented?

First, get enough sleep. You may need seven, eight or more hours each night. Additionally, stick to a sleeping schedule that lets you be fully rested on a consistent basis each day. Talk to your doctor if you have any drowsiness during the day and follow the treatment that your doctor gives you. If you are in an accident that involves drowsy driving, talk with your attorney.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel,” accessed July 08, 2016