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Is drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving?

When drivers do not get enough sleep, they experience the same effects drunk drivers do when they get behind the wheel.

Most drivers in Nevada are aware that not only is driving under the influence of alcohol illegal, but it is also dangerous to themselves and those around them. However, many drivers are not as aware of the dangers of drowsy driving and how it can cause injurious and even fatal accidents.

The dangers of drowsy driving

Drivers who are drowsy and drunk drivers both have a difficult time paying attention to the road in front of them. Drowsiness and alcohol also make it difficult for drivers to make quick decisions as they travel. Although drowsy driving and drunk driving are similar, tired drivers and drivers under the influence of alcohol exhibit different behaviors on the road. For example, drunk drivers can reduce their speed and try to react to situations around them. Comparatively, drowsy drivers may not react to situations around them and start to fall asleep while travelling at high speeds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers who have gone for 18 hours without sleep have the same level of impairment as drivers with a blood alcohol content level of 0.05 percent. Those who go more than 24 hours without sleep experience the same level of impairment as drunk drivers with a BAC level of 0.10 percent.

Know the warning signs

Drivers who are too sleep deprived to operate a vehicle safely may experience the following warning signs:

  • Frequent yawning or blinking
  • Problems remembering the past few miles driven
  • Drifting from the designated lane
  • Hitting rumble strips along the side of the road
  • Missed exits or turns

Commercial drivers who operate tow trucks, buses, tractor trailers and other large vehicles, those who work long shifts or the night shift and drivers with untreated sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, are more likely to drive in a sleep-deprived state. Drivers who take medications that cause drowsiness are also more likely to experience the dangerous effects of drowsy driving.

Contact an attorney

Drowsy driving is a frequent problem in Nevada and throughout the U.S. Between 2005 and 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that on an annual basis, drowsy driving was responsible for 37,000 injurious collision, 83,000 car accidents and 886 fatal crashes.

Drivers injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver may experience serious physical, emotional and financial harm. Those in this situation should contact an attorney in their area for assistance asserting their legal rights.