Drowsy Drivers v. Drunk Drivers - Which is Worse?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) states drunk drivers might be a little worse than drowsy drivers, but not by much. That is why police in California and the National Sleep foundation spent the last week trying to convince drivers not to get behind the wheel if they are tired. According to the NHTSA, over 1500 deaths and 70,000 injuries occur in car accidents caused by sleepy drivers. And with the holidays fast approaching, the number of drowsy drivers is set to increase, as travelers leave early in the morning and drive long hours to reach their holiday destinations.

Signs of a tired driver are similar to those of a drunk driver. They tend to drive under the speed limit to the point where they are holding up traffic. They may swerve across the yellow lines on the road or onto the shoulder. Running red lights, but at a slower speed is also an indication. Police officers frequently pull drivers over because they appear to be driving under the influence only to discover the person behind the wheel just hasn’t had enough sleep. While there is not a specific charge for driving while tired, sometimes tickets are given for the erratic driving that made them appear drunk.

The best way to avoid drowsy driving is to make sure you have had enough sleep before you head out, and to get off the road when you begin to feel tired. If you are traveling with someone, have them take a shift behind the wheel. If you are alone, don’t bother blaring the music or rolling down the window; these tricks don’t really work. Your best bet is to pull over and sleep for about 15 minutes to help recharge your batteries.

A quick online search for Kentucky car accidents caused by sleepy drivers pulls up three accidents in the last six months just on the first page of search results. One occurred when a driver was stopped in traffic and a driver who fell asleep at the wheel rear-ended him, resulting in serious injuries. Another was caused by a sleepy driver swerving over a double-yellow line, causing a head-on collision. The third was a single-car accident that injured both the driver and his passenger when he fell asleep and ran off the road, flipping the car on the way. While the spotlight is currently on drivers distracted by cell phones, it is important to keep in mind that other factors frequently cause accidents. As with distracted driving, falling asleep while driving can be avoided if people use common sense and admit when they are too tired to drive. As a , Kentucky car accident attorney Steve Frederick has seen the injuries caused by distracted or sleepy drivers. Please stay awake, and stay safe, while driving during this holiday season.


CHP launches campaign to fight driver drowsiness; Mercury News; Gary Richards; November 12, 2012