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Is Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving? | Nickelsporn & Lundin, P.C.
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Which Is Worse, Drunk or Drowsy Driving?

It was the night of July 5th, and you and your family were coming back from a long week at your in-laws house. It was approximately 10:00 pm, your children were asleep in the back seat and your wife was keeping you alert by blaring old songs and singing loudly to them. Thankfully, your exit was coming up, and as soon as you get off 425, it’s less than 15 minutes to get home.

However, that night there was an unusually large amount of traffic from other families coming back from there 4th of July festivities, and it was taking a lot longer to get to your exit than you had planned. After about five minutes, you were almost there, when suddenly the car in front of you began to veer off the road. You thought maybe he was still a little tipsy from the holiday drinking, so you slowed down to put a little distance between the two of you.

Unfortunately, he too began to slow down while he simultaneously drifted more and more onto the shoulder. You managed to safely pass him—as he was now going about 20 mph under the speed limit—just as he coasted completely onto the shoulder and toward a ditch. As you passed by him, your wife told you that the driver appeared to be asleep. As you began to merge onto your exit ramp you heard a loud thump, as the “sleeping” car rolled into a ditch.

Needless to say, as soon as you and your family were safely out of traffic, you called the authorities to make sure the driver was alright, but you weren’t sure what to tell the Police. Did the driver appear to be driving drunk, driving while tired, or just unconscious?

Can being tired really impair your driving as much as alcohol?

By the Numbers: Drowsy vs. Drunk Driving

According to a recent car accident factor study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, sleepy or drowsy driving is akin to the impairment level of driving drunk. The study found that both drowsy and drunk driving doubled the risk of causing a car collision. Additional studies comparing drowsy driving with drunk driving have had the following results:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 100,000 crashes are reported each year as the direct result of fatigue.
  • A recent AAA poll found that 60 percent of drivers—approximately 168 million—admittedly drove while tired or drowsy in the past month.
  • Numerous medical studies have found that being awake for 20 hours or more, causes the same amount of impairment as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, the legal intoxication level in all States.

We all know the risks of driving impaired, what we all don’t know is how sleep deprivation can put you at the same amount of risk as downing several shots. Help us educate our friends, neighbors, and fellow motorists by sharing this page with them via your social media. Facebook and Twitter can be used to not only post your daily thoughts, but to help prevent serious accidents. Help keep our streets safe by spreading the word.

Have you recently been the victim of a fatigued driver? Contact us today for more information about your rights and how to pursue an injury compensation claim. We’re ready to fight for you.


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