Drowsy drivers pose a serious risk on South Carolina roads

Drowsy driving may impact people’s ability to drive safely, which may result in serious or fatal motor vehicle collisions.

When people in South Carolina, and elsewhere, think of factors that contribute to motor vehicle accidents, alcohol intoxication, speed and distractions often come to mind. Although it can be just as dangerous as these other factors, people commonly overlook the dangers posed by driving while drowsy or overly fatigued. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving contributed to approximately 72,000 auto collisions in 2013. Often, such crashes result in serious injuries and death for the drowsy drivers, as well as for the occupants of other vehicles.

Who is at risk for drowsy driving?

Anyone who is sleep-deprived or overly tired may be at risk for drowsy driving. The risk may be greater, however, for certain groups. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults, particularly men, between the ages of 18-years-old and 29-years-old are more likely to drive while fatigued than other motorists. Additionally, people who have children in their households may have an increased risk of drowsy driving than those who do not have, or live with, children.

Due to their long, and sometimes irregular, work hours, shift workers may also drive while fatigued. Drowsy driving is also common among commercial vehicle drivers, who often spend long hours on the road.

What causes sleep-deprived driving?

There are a number of factors that may contribute to people driving while drowsy. These may include the following:

  • Not getting adequate rest
  • Sleep loss
  • The time of day when a motorist is traveling
  • Using of sedating medications or sleep aids
  • Driving for extended periods of time

Additionally, untreated sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea, may also contribute to people driving while fatigued. Alcohol consumption may also impact drowsiness. Drivers who are sleep-deprived and consume alcoholic beverages may have an increased level of impairment.

Why is fatigued driving dangerous?

The dangers posed by motorists falling asleep at the wheel are relatively obvious. If drivers are asleep, they cannot control their vehicles. As a result, they may cause auto accidents involving other vehicles, or go off of the road. Just being tired while driving can also impact people's ability to drive safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that drowsiness may slow drivers' reaction times. Additionally, fatigue may make affect people's ability to pay attention to the road, as well as their ability to make sound decisions.

Seeking legal representation

Collisions involving drowsy drivers may cause serious injuries, which require extensive medical treatment and care. As a result, those who are injured may incur undue medical expenses and, in some cases, may also suffer lost wages. When drowsy drivers cause such accidents, they may be held financially liable for the resulting damages. As such, those who have suffered injuries in these types of accidents may find it of benefit to discuss their case with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their rights, as well as their options for pursuing compensation.