The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that 4.2% of all adult drivers fall asleep while driving.
The study by the CDC surveyed nearly 150,000 people over the age of 18 in 19 states, including Illinois, and the District of Columbia. The other states involved included Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming.
The people surveyed were asked whether they had fallen asleep while driving during the last month, whether they had dozed off during the day, whether they felt rested and what their normal sleeping habits were. It was determined that approximately 41 million people in America do not get sufficient sleep.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.5% of all fatal and 2.0% of all non-fatal accidents are the result of drowsy drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that over 16% of all traffic fatalities involve drowsy drivers. These numbers might be way off, since the percentages depend on whether an accident and its cause are reported. It is estimated that the true number of fatal accidents attributable to drowsy driving could be as high as 33%.
When the data was broken down, it showed that men were more likely to go to sleep driving than women and younger people were more likely to doze off than those that are older. The state with the lowest numbers of drowsy drivers was Oregon. Texas was the highest, with over 6% admitting to falling asleep driving.
Seven hours of sleep per day is recommended by the CDC. They also ask that drivers who are aware that they fall asleep while driving seek medical help for their condition. They could be suffering from sleep apnea, which results in excessive daytime sleepiness.
Drivers also need to be aware that certain sleeping pills can impair mental alertness and reaction times when driving to work the next day. The FDA recently announced that it was recommending reduced dosages of Ambien to physicians, particularly for female patients. The recommendation was to cut the dosage in half, to 5mg from 10mg for immediate release pills and to 6.25mg from 12.5mg for extended release pills. This concern is due to the active ingredient zolpidem, which metabolizes much slower than first thought, resulting in potentially impaired driving ability in the morning after taking the medication. Those people taking sleep aid medications containing zolpidem should avoid driving and operating machinery the following day.
The number of Americans taking sleeping pills is incredible. In 2011 there were approximately 60 million prescriptions filled for sleep aid medications, an increase of roughly 20% since 2006. Out of that number, nearly 40 million were for products containing zolpidem.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident because the other driver fell asleep or was impaired from taking sleeping pills, you need to seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney with a proven track record.
David K. Kremin & Associates, P.C. have over 30 years of experience handling a wide variety of serious injury and wrongful death cases, including cases involving drowsy drivers and those impaired due to prescription medications.
Contact us at (800) 275-2529 to discuss your case with one of our attorneys. The consultation is free and you do not pay us a fee unless we make a recovery for you.