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Is Driving Drowsy as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?

The risk of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is well known. But what about drowsy driving? Despite the significant difference in attitudes toward these forms of dangerous driving, drowsy driving poses a comparable risk to drunk driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 100,000 annual vehicle collisions are caused by drowsy drivers.

Of the 100,000 drowsy driving-related vehicle collisions that occur annually, more than 1,500 result in fatal injuries. Studies have shown that driving while tired presents similar cognitive and physical symptoms of impairment as found in drunk drivers. An Australian study revealed that the response time of a driver who hadn’t slept during the previous twenty-hour period was half that of a rested driver. Similar results occur in drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 percent. Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center discovered even more startling results. According to their research, a driver with only four hours of sleep has the cognitive and physical impairment of someone with a .19 percent BAC. That’s more than twice the legal limit!

Why are Drowsy Driving Cases So Challenging?

Driving while drowsy because of lack of sleep or sleep-inducing medications can make a person legally responsible for property damage and injuries. However, proving that the accident was caused due to driving drowsy is not an easy task. No good system exists to measure the level of a person’s drowsiness or whether they were, in fact, drowsy at all. By contrast, drunk driving is very easy to prove. If someone involved in an accident is suspected of being intoxicated, for example, a simple field sobriety test or breathalyzer test can measure that person’s level of intoxication. Not so for drowsiness.

In some instances, an at-fault driver will admit to the police that he or she was drowsy, tired, or fatigued at the time of the accident. However, this is uncommon. When an admission of guilt is not recorded, other techniques must be employed to prove drowsiness. Certain factors may help point to drowsiness as a cause, such as a prescription for a medication that promotes drowsiness. Witness statements can also be helpful when it comes to drowsy driving accidents. The bottom line – it is crucial to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience specific to this type of accident.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years, and we have an impressive track record of obtaining client compensation. If you’ve been harmed due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. Drowsy driving cases can be complicated, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be won. The attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP have extensive experience with these types of cases, and we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t go through this alone. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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