Study: Drowsy Driving Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Thomas Jeter • March 12, 2015

Study: Drowsy Driving Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Last year, a truck driver made national headlines when he slammed into the limo of comedian and actor Tracy Morgan. As a result of the accident, one man was killed and Morgan was seriously injured. A criminal complaint alleged that the truck driver had not slept in 24 hours and his drowsiness caused the accident.

Here in South Carolina and around the country, fatigue can play a role in traffic tickets and accidents. Drivers should be aware of the warning signs that they are too tired to be behind the wheel.

The Facts about Drowsy Driving

The medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine published a study that found that the risk of causing a crash doubles if the driver is tired. That rate is the same for drivers who have been drinking. Researchers found that, much like alcohol impairment, drowsiness can cause the following:

  • Poor vision and judgment while driving
  • A much slower reaction time
  • A difficulty processing information from traffic signs or cues
  • An increased proclivity to moodiness or aggression

Another report from scientists in the Netherlands suggests that nighttime driving – when motorists are more likely to be fatigued – is much like driving after having a few alcoholic drinks.

 Spot the Signs

To avoid causing problems on the road, people should be aware of when they are becoming too tired to drive. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that anyone who has been awake for more than 24 hours should not attempt to operate a vehicle. Further, the organization recommends that adults receive as much as eight to nine hours of sleep at night in order to be fully awake during the day.

When in a car, the NSF advises drivers to pay attention to their behaviors. If they cannot remember traveling the last few miles, or if they have trouble focusing, it could be a sign that they are overly tired. Additionally, people who are nodding to keep themselves awake may be fighting a losing battle.

When these symptoms are present, the NSF suggests drinking a caffeinated drink or rolling down windows to allow cold air into the vehicle. The safest bet, according to the organization, is to pull over and find a suitable place to rest or stay for the night.

Safety behind the wheel can prevent a costly and even deadly incident. When an accident does occur, drivers should recognize the potential severity of the consequences. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we understand the repercussions associated with drowsy driving. If you have been ticketed or charged in connection with a traffic violation, allow us to help you through the legal process.