The drowsy driving danger that remains largely ignored

Drunk driving and distracted driving are just the beginning. Up to 20 percent of fatal accidents involve drowsy driving.

By now, most people have heard of the dangers of distracted driving. The messages have been everywhere, from prominent ad campaigns to bumper stickers urging drivers to put down their cellphones. For years, drivers have known not to get behind the wheel after drinking. Before we ever get our driver's licenses, we are told to keep our hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, stay sober, and minimize distractions.

What we know are safe driving behaviors and the way in which we actually drive can be very different, unfortunately.

For example, 40 percent of teens admit they text while driving, even though the vast majority recognize that it is dangerous. Shockingly, however, a recent study out of Oregon State University found that 27 percent of teens changed clothes in the car. Teens also report putting on makeup, doing homework, and changing out their contact lenses while driving. These seem too obviously dangerous activities to require an ad campaign against them, but teens, much like older drivers, also overestimate their ability to multitask. This leads to accidents.

Perhaps the most underreported danger on America's roads remains fatigued driving, however.

Fatigued driving plays a role in hundreds of thousands of accidents

Driving while fatigued remains the most ignored safety threat on America's roads. One reason might be while that many drivers never drive after drinking or text while driving, on occasion everyone loses sleep.

Americans value hard work, and we all know at least one person who is proud to report only getting a few hours of sleep each night. But the dangers of drowsy driving are real. Evidence suggests that severely fatigued drivers have similar motor reflex skills as impaired drivers. It is why truck drivers must follow federally mandated hours-of-service requirements. When behind an 18 wheeler, the safety of fellow motorists takes priority over getting a delivery in on time, meaning that truck drivers must get adequate rest.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is beginning to focus on combating fatigued driving in the same way it has fought distracted and drunk driving. NHTSA head Mark Rosekind has recently begun speaking out on the issue. Previous data has shown that drowsy driving causes roughly 100,000 annual crashes, with tens of thousands of injuries and 1,500 lives lost.

Help after an accident

Injured motorists in Pennsylvania have options after a car crash. Even if another driver never drank and distracted driving was not an issue, there is still such a thing as negligent driving. If a tired driver causes an accident, he or she is still at fault. Under Pennsylvania law, people who are injured through negligent driving are able to recover the cost of subsequent medical bills, lost wages, and other monetary damages. While hopefully the upcoming awareness campaign will awaken drivers to the danger of driving while fatigued, the issue remains largely ignored for now.

At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., our team has experience holding drivers accountable no matter the underlying cause of their negligence. Contact our office to discuss your situation and legal options.

Keywords: Drowsy driving, driving while fatigued, drunk driving, distracted driving, car accident, personal injury lawsuit, Soloff & Zervanos, P.C.