The majority of motorists in California are aware that driving while fatigued can be extremely dangerous. Nevertheless, the results of several studies suggest that a worryingly large number of Americans are frequently guilty of getting behind the wheel despite being drowsy or under the influence of medications like Ambien or Restoril. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drivers who have not slept for 24 hours pose as much of a threat to other road users as motorists with blood alcohol concentrations higher than the .08 percent legal limit.
Another problem with drowsy driving is that most of the things fatigued drivers do to remain alert either do not work for very long or make matters worse. Drinking a cup of coffee only provides short-term stimulation, and turning up the stereo or opening a window have virtually no effect at all. However, taking actions such as these may lead drowsy drivers to believe that they have tackled the problem.
Doctors agree that rest is the only effective treatment for fatigue. Road safety advocates urge drivers who will be making long trips to plan carefully and include frequent rest stops. Motorists should also check the warning labels on any medications they take as even seemingly benign over-the-counter remedies can contain substances that cause drowsiness. Signs that a driver may be overdue for some rest include driving on highway rumble strips, missing an exit or finding it difficult to maintain proper lane discipline.
When seeking compensation on behalf of a car accident victim who has been injured by a drowsy driver, an experienced personal injury attorney may look for evidence of fatigue. Most modern cars are fitted with data recorders that could reveal how long the driver had been on the road.