Is drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving?

On behalf of Restovich Braun & Associates posted in car accidents on Friday, February 27, 2015.

We've all had days where we feel better rested than others. Whether one is tired due to insomnia, stress or a young child, in most cases we get up and go about our days. In many cases that could entail getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to drive. According to National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll, 60 percent of people who live in the United States have done that very thing while sleepy. Few, if any, people likely consider how dangerous that activity could be.

Researchers in Australia determined that staying awake for 18 hours and driving was the equivalent of blowing a blood alcohol concentration of .05. Staying up another six hours was equal to a BAC of .10. While most drivers would likely not get behind the wheel of a car to drive if they knew they were that intoxicated, sleepy drivers who are arguably as impaired, may not give it a second thought.

This is not to say that the topic has not been addressed. For example, those who drive trucks for a living must have a certain amount of time off each week to rest, before being able to get behind the wheel and drive. While many drivers of vehicles other than trucks in the state of Minnesota likely support those regulations, they may not think about how that same issue could impact themselves and others sharing the road with them, when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle to drive. In an effort to highlight the issue, a Twin Cities news channel recently conducted an investigation into the matter.

Assisted by the Hennepin County Medical Center, four volunteers who were deprived of sleep underwent a driving test on a closed course. During the test their brain waves were monitored. The results of the study should be disturbing to readers. While all four experienced issues with keeping their eyes open, three others committed a driving act that constituted outright failures of the test, including:

  • Falling asleep during a simulated stop
  • Hitting cones
  • Driving off the road

As is the case with drunk driving, drowsy driving could be considered a negligent activity. If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident due to a sleepy driver, you may be able to recoup damages via a personal injury lawsuit.

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