Drowsy driving leading to alarming number of crashes, deaths

CLEARWATER, Fla. -
It's no secret that many Americans today are sleep deprived.  But a new report finds that lack of getting enough rest is having deadly consequences on roads across the nation.
 
"Not every driver drinks.  But every driver gets tired.  So there's more risk of drowsy driving," personal injury attorney Matthew Noyes said.
 
Dwayne Busa admits it's happened to him, and he's not ashamed to pull over for a quick cat nap to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.
 
"There are too many people on the road who don't do that, and they may start weaving and all the sudden, we're in an accident that I'm in the hospital or they're in the hospital someplace," Busa said.
 
Attorney Matthew Noyes works several cases every year involving drowsy drivers. He says most often, drivers get hurt or injured when they're tired and end up crashing their own car. But sometimes drivers who nod off will swerve into another vehicle or even drive the wrong way down the road.
 
"We push ourselves to get where we need to go, which puts us all at risk for people getting into a car accident," said Noyes.
 
Experts now say drowsy driving is becoming an epidemic. Studies show a driver running on six hours of sleep or less perform at the level of someone legally drunk.
 
The result has been more than 72,000 drowsy driving crashes in the past few years with 800 deaths. But the numbers could be much higher, since it can be tough to prove a driver fell asleep. And this time of year is one of the worst for drowsy driving.
 
"Back to school.  People are adjusting to their new schedules, early mornings.  So people are just tired driving to and from school and that's a big risk for them," said Noyes.
 
Driving on long road trips and time changes are also more likely to make you a sleepy driver.
 
The good news is the problem is very fixable.  You have to try hard to get the recommended amount of sleep, and if you're desperate, a boost of caffeine can help during short distance drives.
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