Drowsy Driving in Ann Arbor

Getting a good night's sleep isn't only healthy; it might save your life.

For night owls who live on four or fewer hours of sleep per night for a week or more, driving a car would be like doing so after downing a few drinks at a bar. That's what Michigan State Police recently said at a kickoff to Drowsy Driving Awareness Week.

Fatigued Drivers are Common and Deadly

Unknown to most drivers who often hear about the pitfalls of drinking and distracted driving, drowsy driving is just as common. More than 50 percent of all drivers surveyed in a 2009 poll admitted to driving while drowsy, while 28 percent admitted to actually falling asleep when on the road.

This common practice is a lethal one. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, as many as 100,000 car accidents occur each year as a result of drowsy driving, leading to more than 70,000 injuries and 1,500 fatalities on the nation's roads.

Younger drivers are often the culprits, as drivers between 16 and 24 twice as often involved in motor vehicle accidents involving drowsy driving as older drivers are.

That's why police say anyone driving should have at least seven hours of sleep before getting behind the wheel. Officers also recommend stopping every two hours - or 100 miles - if driving while tired.

While insufficient sleep is often the cause of drowsy driving, for many others, the problem isn't just sleep deprivation but obstructive sleep apnea. This condition afflicts as many as 18 million Americans, who find themselves dozing off in the middle of the day - even while behind the wheel.

Legal Consequences of Driving Drowsy

When someone drives drowsy or fatigued they are placing themselves and others at risk. Just as drunk drivers are liable to their victims for property damage, injuries or death, those who drive-while-drowsy are responsible for car accidents that they cause.

If you or a family member has been seriously injured by a fatigued driver contact an Ann Arbor personal injury attorney. A skilled lawyer can use a variety of evidence and accident reconstruction techniques to demonstrate fault of a tired driver. Many attorneys can also help an accident victim with his or her no-fault insurance dispute.