Drowsy driving and its health effects

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of car crashes involving drowsy drivers every year in the U.S., many of which are fatal. Connecticut drivers may be surprised to hear that fatigue actually triples their risk for an accident.

Both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults sleep seven hours a night. Failing to achieve this can lead to impairment. Drivers will find it harder to pay attention, and they may be less capable of judging and reacting to dangers on the road. In fact, they may become like drunk drivers in their behavior. Going without sleep for 20 hours straight is like having a BAC of .08.

In serious cases of sleep deprivation, people will experience involuntary bursts of inattention called microsleep. During a four- or five-second period of microsleep, a driver going at highway speed could cover the distance of a football field without knowing it.

While regular sleep is the only real solution to drowsy driving, other interventions are possible. Newer vehicles could be enhanced with add-ons like lane departure warning and drowsiness alert. Parents of teens could have a provision about drowsiness in their driving agreement. Universities could set up educational programs to instill healthy behaviors in students.

Still, the choice lies with drivers whether they want to keep going despite their fatigue. When motor vehicle accidents are clearly the result of drowsy driving, they may become the subject of a personal injury claim. Victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case and determine how it stands. They may also learn how much they might be eligible for in damages.