The demands of modern-day society mean that the average person gets much less than the traditionally recommended eight hours of sleep each night. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that half of all Americans feel drowsy during the daytime National Sleep Foundation revealed that half of all Americans feel drowsy during the daytime hours between 3-7 days per week. Approximately 1 of 25 drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel during the last month according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Because drowsiness significantly reduces driving ability, motorists face a substantial risk of being involved in a collision with a sleepy motorist. Drowsy driving accounts for approximately 91,000 crashes, 50,000 injuries, and 800 fatalities annually.
While a driver’s level of drowsiness does not necessarily mean the motorist will be liable for an accident, tired and fatigued drivers tend to have diminished driving skills that result in errors. The danger associated with a driver falling asleep behind the wheel while navigating the interstate might be obvious, but drowsy drivers who manage to remain awake still present a serious accident risk. Sleepiness negatively impacts driving in multiple ways, including but not limited to the following:
- Diminishes ability to concentrate
- Increases reaction time for braking and steering adjustments
- Compromises decision-making and judgment
- Impairs perception (especially vision)
Although rising demands on time constitute a common reason for an increase in sleepy drivers, the prevalence of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications also contribute to the drowsy driving epidemic. Many commonly used medications promote drowsiness, such as:
- Pain medications (i.e., opioids)
- Antipsychotic medication
- Anxiety medications
- Sleeping pills
- Allergy medications (i.e., antihistamines)
- Certain antidepressants
- Muscle relaxers
- Anti-seizure drugs
- Anti-diarrhea medications
- Motion sickness drugs
- Some diet pills
Like the examples above, a driver’s use of CBD also can adversely impact driving ability as this substance can cause lethargy, drowsiness, and sedation. Many people fail to read or adhere to warning labels advising users not to operate a motor vehicle when drug-influenced. Substance impaired motorist tend to commit mistakes like disobeying traffic signals or stop signs, failing to stop for interruptions in the flow of traffic, following too closely, executing an unsafe lane change, drifting into an adjacent lane, speeding, and other dangerous driving maneuvers.
If you are struck by a driver who you suspect fell asleep at the wheel was under the influence of a drug, you should report your accident to law enforcement and disclose your suspicion to the officer who investigates the accident. This information might enable the officer to investigate to determine if the other driver was impaired by an intoxicating substance or under the influence of a drug that causes drowsiness. Cases involving drowsiness not caused by a drug can be complicated. No definitive test exists to determine “drowsy driving” unlike driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
If you have been injured in a collision or lose a loved one in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, an experienced New York car accident injury lawyer can review your situation and discuss your potential claim for monetary compensation.
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