Study: Drowsy drivers pose deadly risk on Georgia roads

Based on the findings of one study, drowsy drivers pose a serious crash risk, which may result in serious injuries or death for those involved.

Many people recognize dangerous behaviors such as speeding or drinking and driving. Often overlooked, however, are the risks of drowsy driving. According to a recent study, drowsy drivers have a significant negative impact on the safety of the roads in Georgia, and throughout the U.S.

Why is drowsy driving dangerous?

It is easy to understand why falling asleep behind the wheel is hazardous. Without a conscious motorist controlling the vehicle, it may drift into other lanes of traffic or off of the road altogether. Driving while overly tired or fatigued can be just as risky. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that drowsiness may affect people's judgment, impair their ability to focus on the task of driving or slow their reaction times.

As a result of these, and other effects, drowsy drivers may be less able to safely operate their vehicles, adjust to changes in driving conditions or respond to emergency situations that may arise on the road. This may contribute to them causing auto accidents, which may result in serious injuries or death for them, their passengers or the occupants of other vehicles.

Studying the impact of drowsy driving

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study to estimate the number of motor vehicle accidents involving drowsy drivers. For the study, researchers analyzed data from 21,292 collisions occurring between 2009 and 2013. The crashes included were investigated through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System, or NASS CDS. All of the wrecks involved in the study had at least one vehicle towed from the scene.

Through the NASS CDS, investigators assessed the motorists' attention before the collisions. They labeled their assessments as attentive, looked but did not see, distracted, sleepy or asleep, and unknown. The researchers excluded wrecks in which the severity of the injuries suffered was unknown, cutting the study sample down to 14,268 crashes. They then used multiple imputation models to establish estimates that could be applied to all auto accidents in which one vehicle was towed.

Drowsy drivers pose crash risk

The study found the roads are significantly impacted by drowsy drivers. According to the study, it is estimated that 21 percent of fatal motor vehicle collisions involve drowsy drivers. If applied to the motor vehicle accidents reported nationally, the study suggests there are more than 320,000 drowsiness-related crashes each year. The drowsy drivers themselves, their passengers, or the drivers and passengers of other vehicles may sustain serious injuries or be killed as a result of such accidents.

Seeking legal guidance

When Georgians are injured in motor vehicle collisions, they often need medical treatment. This may cause them to incur medical expenses, as well as lose income while they are recovering. In situations when drowsy drivers cause such crashes, they may be held liable for these and other damages. Thus, it may be helpful for those who have experienced situations such as this to consult with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their rights and help them understand their options for pursuing compensation.