Drowsy driving. Two words drivers may not always think of when they get behind the wheel of a car with a cup of coffee riding as their passenger. Drowsy driving is a form of distracted driving that has affected “60%”[i] of adult drivers in the U.S. alone, yet the dangers of driving while drowsy are not warned of as often as other types of distracted driving.
No driver is immune to drowsiness. In fact, many drivers have driven while experiencing lapses in consciousness; however, a smaller portion of drivers recognize the dangers of driving in this state and pull over to rest and regain their energy. Drivers who are sleep deprived experience a sort of wakeful unconsciousness that allows them to continue operating a vehicle while being unaware of their surroundings. According to a 2016 report conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 5,000 people lost their lives due to drowsy driving in 2015[ii]. Unlike drunken driving, there is no accurate way for an officer to test a driver for sleeplessness.
Additionally, driving while drowsy can hold the same dangers as driving while drunk. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation of up to eighteen hours imitates a “blood alcohol level of .05,” while being awake for twenty-four hours imitates a blood alcohol level of “.10.”[iii] Putting that into perspective, a person can be convicted of a DUI with a .08 blood alcohol level due to their inability to operate a vehicle in a safe manner. Yet, drivers continue to push through their drowsiness in favor of proceeding to their destination.
New advancements in technology have been working towards combating drowsy driving. Drowsiness detection technology has recently become integrated into vehicles to detect a vehicle’s proximity to another vehicle and correct lane deviations. Plessey Semiconductor has developed new technology that monitors drivers heart rates to test their “alertness” and signal to them “when they need to stop and take a break.”[iv] Presently, it is unclear if this technology will hold a record of a driver’s heart rate that can later be used as evidence of their negligence.
No matter if you are running late to an event or on the last leg of your trip, if you begin feeling drowsy, you should always pull over, grab a caffeinated beverage, and rest for a while until you can safely operate a vehicle. Do not rely on technology to keep you safe, as technology is not free of error. Your life, and the lives of other people, is more important than getting to your destination on time.
If you were injured due to another’s negligence a personal injury lawyer San Marcos will help you receive treatment and address any questions you may have. Please call (858) 252-0781 to set up a free consultation.
Disclaimer: While we always seek to establish accuracy when publishing articles, this piece is not intended to provide legal advice, and should not be used as such. Each individual case will differ and should be discussed with an attorney or legal expert. If you would like to inquire about pursuing a claim against a drunk driver, please contact a San Diego injury lawyer at (858) 252-0781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Drowsy Driving. (n.d.). Retrieved from NHTSA: https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving
[ii] New Report Spotlights Dangers of Drowsy Driving. (2016, August 8). Retrieved from GHSA : http://web.archive.org/web/20161020232548/http://www.ghsa.org/html/media/pressreleases/2016/20160808sfdrowsy.html
[iii] Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving: How Similar Are They? (n.d.). Retrieved from National Sleep Foundation: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/drowsy-driving-vs-drunk-driving-how-similar-are-they
[iv] Warden. (n.d.). Retrieved from Plessey Semiconductors: http://www.plesseysemiconductors.com/products/warden/