Despite all the attention given to the dangers of driving while impaired, it still remains one of the most dangerous yet common driving offenses in Georgia. Most of that attention is focused on distracted driving and alcohol and drugs. This is with good reason, as the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that alcohol plays a role in almost 35% of all deadly crashes.
However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now added drowsy driving to the definition of impairment, reports Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine. Being tired also affects a driver’s ability to remain alert and react swiftly, much the same as alcohol. Sleepiness can also compromise a driver’s ability to make sound decisions. In fact, one study conducted by the NHTSA found that driving errors are two times more likely to occur when the driver is feeling drowsy. Each day more than 83 million drivers in America take to the road without getting the recommended amount of sleep.
The demographics of the people who are most likely to get behind the wheel while feeling fatigued are diverse. They include shift workers, people who medical disorders such as sleep apnea, and young adults and teens.
While it is difficult for law enforcement to be able to spot a drowsy driver, tired drivers do certainly seem to be a pervasive problem. It is estimated that 5,000 people die in drowsy driving-related accidents each year. Those crashes, along with non-fatal fatigued driver accidents, cost $109 billion annually and that number does not even take property damage into account.