Sleepiness Blamed for at least 83,000 Car Accidents Annually

Certain behaviors behind the wheel are widely understood to be so dangerous as to make them unacceptable. Among them are driving while drunk and driving under the influence of illegal drugs, both of which are known to impair a motorist’s ability to make decisions and to operate a car in a safe, reasonable manner. Studies show that many other activities are as dangerous – and sometimes more so – than driving while drunk but these get much less attention and much less press coverage.

Among threatening behaviors, it is becoming clear that drowsy driving or driving while tired is plaguing the nation as Americans continue to overextend themselves on a regular basis. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 83,000 car accidents took place each year between 2005 and 2009 because of tired drivers, and the National Sleep Foundation estimates an annual cost of 100,000 traffic crashes. Even more startling, the American Automobile Association believes that 300,000 collisions and 6,400 deaths are the fault of drowsy driving, a stunning toll when compared to the overall population of our country.

The obvious questions to ask are (1) why is drowsy driving such a significant issue and (2) what can be done to combat this behavior, but unfortunately, these are two questions without simple answers.

Drowsy driving is widely believed to be increasing in frequency in all states across the country. Surveys among drivers indicate that increasing workloads on a job site, greater demands in their personal lives, and an overall uptick to the pace of life may be partially to blame. Unlike other activities, including consuming alcohol, the ability to become tired, sleepy, or drowsy will strike every individual regardless of age, social status, or occupation which means that anyone who operates a vehicle potentially can do so while tired.

Some people are more likely than others to be drowsy while driving, though, and it is often based upon the factors that influence their lives beyond their commutes. Workers who are employed for second or third shifts or others who operate on a rotating schedule are more likely to be tired than those who work a nine-to-five job. And parents of new babies and toddlers show a significant increase in their levels of tiredness when compared to non-parent counterparts or even those with older children.

The best approach for combating sleepiness is heavily debated even among experts in the industry. Some argue for drowsy-specific laws in all 50 states which would make it a traffic violation or even a crime to operate while tired. Currently, two states have such laws but they have been difficult to enforce as it often requires tired drivers to admit to their sleepiness – something many are unwilling to do if they may face punishment for their drowsy driving. Others argue that a social push to make drowsy driving offensive to the public at large is what should be done. By that logic, drivers should self police one another much in the way that drivers handle drinking these days. If alcohol is involved, one friend may take another friend’s keys away to prevent her from driving. In a similar vein, if someone is tired, a friend, co-worker, or family member may prevent that individual from driving.

The reality of our lives in Phoenix mean that motorists have to get from one point to another and often cannot control how much rest they have had prior to doing so. Few employers will allow their workers to sleep in an extra three hours in the morning to make sure they are well rested for the commute. Though that may be ideal, that is not the way the real world works at this time.

As a result, drowsy driving car accidents keep taking place in Arizona and continue to cause injuries and harm to unsuspecting, innocent victims. If you were the unfortunate victim of such a crash, know that you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages, including your medical expense and the pain and suffering you endured. The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are standing by 24 hours a  day, seven days a week to take your call and to offer you a free case consultation toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191 so that you can get the information you need about your legal options.

Prior Blog Entry:

Google Car Partially Blamed for Crash with Bus, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published March 1, 2016.


Drowsy Driving Causes 100,000 Accidents A Year. Why Aren’t We Doing More To Stop It?, by Krithika Varagur, The Huffington Post, published February 29, 2016.

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