Drowsy driving has long been understood to be a danger. However, the American Automobile Association is regarding to this issue with growing concern. One recent survey found that one third of all drivers admitted to driving at least once in the last month while having trouble staying awake. This makes sense, considering another study finds that 27 percent of Americans have said they have trouble sleeping.

Sleep aids contributing to the issue

The issue gets more complicated when those with (or prone to) sleep deprivation use sleep aids. Warning labels for these drugs clearly inform users to allot seven or eight hours for rest, yet Consumer Reports has found that 20 percent of drivers who use sleep aids get behind the wheel within seven hours of taking the drug.

Just as dangerous as alcohol

Sleep experts also are quick to point out that it drowsiness impairs judgment. For example, drivers who stay awake for 24 hours are just as impaired as if they had a blood alcohol level of .10 (.08 is the legal limit). While there is no way for law enforcement to test for drowsiness, common signs include:

  • Droopy eyelids
  • Yawning
  • Drifting from lane
  • Missing road signs or turns
  • No recollection of previous minutes driving

Danger to themselves and others

Anyone exhibiting the above signs should pull off the road as soon as possible. However, few do, and thus put others as well as themselves in danger. Victims in accidents should contact an attorney with experience handling personal injury if they suspect the driver who caused the crash fell asleep behind the wheel or drove erratically. Depending on the circumstances, the damages can be steep and injuries may be life changing for victims and their loved ones.