California drivers may have recently traveled while they were drowsy. If so, they are not alone. The National Sleep Foundation says that half of all U.S. adults consistently get behind the wheel in a drowsy state of mind, and 20% even admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous year.
To raise awareness of drowsy driving, the NSF conducts an annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. For 2020, it is scheduled to go from Nov. 1 to 8. Being aware of drowsy driving means being aware of the safety risk it poses. Drowsiness and alcohol can affect drivers in similar ways, impairing their risk assessment ability and reaction times.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that every year in the U.S., there are 328,000 crashes that involve drowsy driving. Of these, 109,000 result in injuries and 6,400 in fatalities. Drowsy drivers are three times more likely than others to crash.
Various interventions are possible for minimizing drowsy driving. Roughly half of all drowsy driving crashes involve drivers under 25, so parents should discuss the dangers with their teenage children. University students sleep less than the recommended seven hours, so education programs aimed at them in particular may help as well. Better labeling for medications can alert people to those side effects that would compromise driving.
Those who are injured in a car crash through no fault of their own deserve compensation, and if they find out that the other driver was drowsy, then they have a good chance of obtaining that compensation. Drowsy driving is, after all, a form of negligence. In some cases, though, it can be hard to prove that a driver was fatigued. This is one of many reasons why victims may want to hire a lawyer for their case.