Drowsy driving is a significant cause of accidents and injuries in Ohio

Drowsy driving on the part of passenger vehicle drivers or large truck drivers is a common cause of car accidents, injuries and fatalities in Ohio.

It's not uncommon for people in Columbus to go about their daily routines while they feel sleep deprived or fatigued. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has even labeled insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic. Unfortunately, excessive fatigue can put people at risk for accidents and injuries. This is especially true when people get behind the wheel while drowsy.

Statistics on accidents involving drowsy driving are limited. Fatigue can be difficult to detect and even harder to prove in accidents, especially if drivers don't admit to it. However, the available data suggests that drowsy driving is a significant cause of accidents today.

Prevalence of drowsy driving

According to the CDC, a surprising number of adults report nodding off while driving. In a 2009 survey, 5.8 percent of men and 3.5 percent of women admitted to drifting off during the month before the survey. The Huffington Post, meanwhile, states that one poll found that 37 percent of drivers had nodded off while driving at least once.

It's not uncommon for these drivers to cause accidents and even harm others. The following national estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal the toll that drowsy driving takes each year:

  • Drowsy driving is believed to cause about 100,000 crashes.
  • An estimated 71,000 injuries occur during these accidents.
  • Hundreds of fatalities also result from these accidents.

In 2012, for example, 737 lives were lost in accidents that were known to involve drowsy driving. The actual fatality rate may have been much higher, given the difficulty of conclusively identifying fatigue-related accidents.

Fatigued truck drivers

Drowsy driving may be especially common among truck drivers. The Los Angeles Times notes that truckers often face pressure to complete deliveries as quickly as possible. Pay that is based on miles traveled, rather than hours logged, encourages truckers to drive even when they feel fatigued. Additionally, these drivers may spend up to 11 hours per day behind the wheel, which may raise the risk of fatigue.

Given these factors, it is not surprising that truck driver fatigue is a frequent factor in accidents. According to The New York Times, a 2006 federal study suggests that 13 percent of all truck crashes involve driver fatigue. Officials note that the real rate could be even higher.

Federal rules that limit working hours and mandate breaks seek to reduce fatigued truck driving. However, it is not unheard of drivers or companies to break these rules. Furthermore, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, one rule that required weekly overnight rests and limited weekly hours was recently suspended. As a result, the risk of fatigue-related truck accidents may remain significant.

Addressing Ohio accidents

The available data suggests that drowsy driving is a significant issue in Ohio. As WLWT News reports, in 2012, there were 1,415 crashes in the state that involved fatigued driving and led to injuries. Between January and November 2013, 869 injurious crashes and six fatal crashes involving driver fatigue were recorded.

When people drive while excessively fatigued and cause accidents, their actions may be considered negligent. Legal remedies may be available to other people who suffer injuries in these accidents. However, proving negligence in these cases may be difficult. Consequently, victims may benefit from consulting with a personal injury attorney about their rights and options.

Keywords: car, auto, accident, injury