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Does drowsy driving equate to drunk driving?

Getting enough sleep can be a challenge for many people here in New Mexico. Between work and family obligations, time for sleep may be limited. When you add in having time to relax and enjoy some down time, the amount of hours left for sleep diminishes quickly.

More than likely, you have experienced days where you feel as though you are on autopilot. You may not even remember your morning or evening commute. Perhaps you even joked, "It's a good thing the car knows the way." You may say that in jest, but you also know that you could be lucky that nothing went wrong while you were driving drowsy.

Drowsy driving vs. drunk driving

You may wonder how sleepiness could possibly be compared to drunkenness. After all, people voluntarily drink and get behind the wheel knowing that they put other people's lives in danger. That may be true, but consider how drowsy driving affects you:

  • If you are tired, your risk of an accident multiplies by three.
  • Your attention span, awareness and reaction time all diminish when you are sleepy.
  • If you drive after not sleeping for at least 20 hours, your ability to drive safely is equal to that of an individual with a blood alcohol content of .08. As you know, if you drive with that BAC, you would be breaking the law and endangering everyone on the roadway.
  • You could experience microsleeps. They may only last a few seconds, but you can cover a significant amount of distance in that time during which you could end up in a collision.

As you can see, drowsy driving does share similarities with drunk driving. Many people don't realize the risk they pose to themselves and others when they are too tired to drive. Some people may not even realize how tired they really are since they are chronically sleep-deprived. Even so, it doesn't make the accidents resulting from drowsy driving any less serious or deadly.

Drowsy driving presents a serious danger

More than likely, every time you get on the road, you are sharing it with someone who is sleep-deprived. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are just two sources that estimate the number of deaths, injuries and accidents that occur each year due to drowsy driving. However, as alarming as those numbers are, they are more than likely far lower than the actual numbers.

This may be one of the most underreported causes of accidents since it isn't necessarily something police account for in an accident. However, if you suffer injuries in an accident caused by another driver, whether he or she was fatigued and driving drowsy may be part of the investigation you conduct as part of your pursuit of compensation for the losses you sustained due to the accident.

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