The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says drowsy driving is a significant contributor to crash-related injuries and deaths nationwide, including in Florida. Data indicates that about 91,000 car accidents in 2017 were caused by drowsy drivers, resulting in approximately 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries. However, those numbers are likely much higher because determining whether drivers were drowsy when they crashed is often impossible.
Microsleeps occur when a drowsy driver dozes off for a few seconds, which is just enough to cause car accidents, often with catastrophic consequences. The following factors cause drowsiness:
- Sleep deprivation: Insufficient sleep at night causes daytime sleepiness.
- Sleep disorders: Disorders like sleep apnea interrupt and restrict restorative sleep.
- Medications: Many prescribed and over-the-counter medications cause drowsiness.
- Alcohol: Along with affecting decision making and reaction time, alcohol causes drowsiness.
- Time of day: Sleepiness peeks between midnight and 6 a.m. and mid-afternoon.
Drivers should take the following red flags that indicate sleepiness seriously and take the next exit to a safe place where they can rest:
- Tired, droopy eyes and excessive blinking
- Frequent yawning
- Hitting rumble strips or drifting across lanes
- Missing road signs or exits
- Struggling to maintain the proper speed
- Inability to recall traveling the last few miles
- Struggling to keep the eyes open
Drowsy drivers risk their own lives and the lives of their passengers and other road users. Victims of such car accidents in Florida might have grounds to seek damage recovery. Filing a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court might provide financial relief. However, the plaintiff will have to prove negligence on the part of the other driver.