Wake up, Minnesota – at least while driving

Drowsy driving kills or injures thousands of people every year. Recent studies have shown that many people routinely drive while drowsy.

Often put on the back burner when compared to issues such as drunk driving and texting behind the wheel, drowsy driving is now getting important recognition. Drivers in Minnesota and other states who would never drive while intoxicated may not think twice about getting behind the wheel despite having little sleep. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that this can be a fatal choice.

The Minnesota Safety Council reports that every year, about 100,000 reported motor vehicle collisions across the country result in 71,000 injuries and over 1,550 deaths - all related to drowsy driving. Despite these facts, all too many drivers have admitted they drive fatigued, and some do on a regular basis.

Awakening studies

Recent studies by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and State Farm Insurance have uncovered some disturbing facts about drowsy driving, including the following:

· About 84 million drivers across the country drive while fatigued.

· The problem is not limited to truck drivers who drive long hours, but can include anyone.

· 31.5 percent of people surveyed said they had trouble staying awake during the past month.

· 43.2 percent said they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once.

· 3.5 percent admitted they drive while drowsy on a regular basis.

Additional studies by Australian researchers have likened the dangers of drowsy driving to drunk driving. After numerous driving tests, the researchers determined that driving after being awake for 18 hours was similar to having a blood alcohol content of .05 percent. After 24 hours without sleep, drivers' impairment was close to a .10 percent BAC. Not surprisingly, driving while severely sleep deprived greatly increases the risk of a driver or others being injured or killed in accidents.

Drowsy driving facts

Anyone who gets behind the wheel sleepy can cause an accident. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some groups are more at risk than others. These include commercial drivers (including truckers), those who work nights and people who regularly do not get enough sleep. High school and college students are known for getting inadequate sleep and are frequently involved in drowsy driving accidents. The same is true for those who take medication that causes tiredness or who have undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders.

People may reduce their chances of getting in an accident by making sure to prioritize a good night's sleep on a regular basis, and to address any problems that cause sleep deprivation. All accidents cannot be prevented, however. It may be necessary to speak with an experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney after an accident that was caused by someone else.