Most drivers in North Carolina and across the country would never drink and drive, but around half consistently drive while feeling drowsy, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation. The study demonstrates how dire the nation's drowsy driving problem is.
The NSF study found that approximately 50% of all adult U.S. drivers say they repeatedly drive while drowsy. It also found that 20% of drivers admit that they've nodded off behind the wheel within the last 12 months. Another 40% admit to falling asleep while driving at some point in their lives. Research has found that drowsy driving can impair drivers just as much as a blood alcohol content level of .08, which above the legal limit in all 50 states.
In 2015, at least 5,000 people were killed in fatigue-related car accidents, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving leads to approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes each year. Meanwhile, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that drowsy driving causes around 328,000 total accidents annually, leading to around 6,400 deaths. There is a discrepancy in the numbers because it is difficult to measure how drowsy a driver was before a crash. Furthermore, not all law enforcement agencies record data on suspected drowsy driving accidents.
Drowsy driving can be even more serious than drunk driving. This is because, unlike some drunk drivers, a sleeping driver won't attempt to hit the brakes or steer away from a potential collision. Someone who has been injured by a drowsy driver could seek compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and property loss. An attorney could review a victim's case and help prepare a personal injury claim.