Drowsy driving puts New Jersey motorists, others in danger

Driving while drowsy can impair motorists’ ability to safely operate vehicles and may lead to car crashes, which could result in serious injuries or death.

Most people in Toms River are aware that driving while intoxicated or distracted can be dangerous. Often overlooked, however, is the danger that driving while drowsy poses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 109,000 motor vehicle accidents resulting in injuries each year. Furthermore, it is estimated that driving while sleep-deprived plays a role in 6,400 fatal auto collisions annually.

How dangerous is drowsy driving?

Fatigue and drowsiness can have a significant impact on people's ability to safely operate their motor vehicles. When motorists have been awake for extended periods of time, or are highly fatigued, they may experience effects similar to those resulting from alcohol consumption. In fact, drivers who have been awake for 18 hours exhibit similar cognitive impairments to those with a .05 percent blood alcohol content level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motorists in New Jersey, and elsewhere, are considered legally intoxicated if their BAC level is .08 percent or higher.

In addition to the obvious hazards of falling asleep while driving, fatigued or sleep-deprived drivers may also have slower reaction times. Additionally, driving while drowsy may lead to problems with decision-making, attention lapses and other negligent driving behaviors. These effects may contribute to drowsy drivers causing motor vehicle collisions, which could result in serious injuries or deaths.

What causes fatigued driving?

Any number of factors may contribute to motorists driving while fatigued. Some of the most common causes of drowsy driving include the following:

  • The amount of time a driver has been on the road
  • The time of day when a motorist is traveling
  • Not getting adequate rest or sleep loss
  • Untreated sleep disorders
  • Using sedating medications or sleep aids

Additionally, consuming alcohol may affect drowsiness. Drinking alcoholic beverages while sleep-deprived or fatigued may increase and enhance a driver's impairment.

Who is at risk of driving while sleep-deprived?

Generally, any motorists who do not get enough sleep or rest could be at risk for drowsy driving. As a result, they could be in danger of causing auto collisions. Some groups, however, may have an increased risk of driving while sleep-deprived. The CDC reports that shift workers and commercial drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy.

Seeking legal counsel

Often, people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents involving drowsy drivers in New Jersey require medical treatment. This can result in undue medical expenses, and may prevent them from working and providing for their families. As such, people who have been involved in collisions with sleep-deprived motorists may find it of benefit to consult with a legal representative. An attorney may explain their rights, and help them understand their options for seeking compensation.