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How Common Are Drowsy Driving Accidents?

SSGBS Car Accident

Falling asleep at the wheel is a serious and potentially deadly problem that can affect drivers of all ages and experience levels. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is a factor in an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 fatalities in the United States each year. It’s a fairly common cause of motor vehicle accidents, causing an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 crashes annually.

One way to measure the prevalence of drowsy driving is to look at the proportion of accidents that involve drowsy drivers. According to the NHTSA, about 2.5% of all motor vehicle crashes involve a drowsy driver. This may seem like a small percentage, but it translates to thousands of crashes within a 12-month span.

It’s worth noting that the actual number of drowsy driving accidents is likely higher than these estimates, as it can be difficult to accurately determine whether a driver was drowsy at the time of the crash. Some drivers may be unwilling to admit that they fell asleep at the wheel, and others may not realize that they were drowsy before the accident occurred.

Why Do Drowsy Driving Accidents Happen?

There are several factors that can increase the risk of a driver falling asleep at the wheel. These include:

  • Lack of sleep: Drivers who get less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
  • Shift work: Drivers who work overnight or irregular shift work schedules may be more at risk for drowsy driving due to the disruption of their natural sleep patterns.
  • Long trips: Drivers who spend a lot of time on the road, such as truck drivers or those who frequently travel long distances, are more at risk for drowsy driving due to the monotony and fatigue that can come with extended periods of driving.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as sedatives and antihistamines, can cause drowsiness and increase the risk of a driver falling asleep at the wheel.

Guarding Against Drowsy Driving Accidents

There are several steps that drivers can take to reduce the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. These include:

  • Getting enough sleep: It’s important to get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help ensure that you are well-rested.
  • Taking breaks: If you are driving for an extended period of time, be sure to take regular breaks to stretch, rest, and refresh yourself.
  • Avoiding medications that cause drowsiness: If you are taking medications that can cause drowsiness, be sure to read the labels and follow the recommendations for use. If you are unsure whether a medication may cause drowsiness, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Of course, if you need to take a medication for health reasons, it’s important to do so, even if it will potentially make you drowsy. Always consult with your doctor when you have questions about these topics.
  • Seeking help: If you find yourself feeling drowsy while driving, pull over and take a break or ask someone else to take over the driving duties.

Of course, while you may take steps to minimize your chances of falling asleep at the wheel, you can’t control the choices that others make. Thus, it’s possible you may one day be harmed in a drowsy driving accident someone else causes.

You can likely seek compensation for your medical bills and other such wages if this ever happens. At Solomon, Sherman, Gabay, Briskin & Sherman, our Philadelphia car accident attorneys can help you pursue what you may be owed. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 215-665-1100 to schedule your free consultation.