Similar to other major urban areas, driving in Las Vegas can put you at risk of injuries in a serious car accident. In particular, when you get behind the wheel of a car after failing to get enough sleep the night before, you can lose the ability to focus on the task of driving, and you can get involved in a severe collision. Whether you are renting a car during a vacation in Las Vegas with plans to drive on the Strip, or you are living in Las Vegas and regularly find yourself behind the wheel of your automobile as you drive to work or to retail establishments in the area, it is important to understand the risks of drowsy driving, why it happens, and how to avoid crashes caused by fatigue.
Drowsy Driving and the Increased Risk of Las Vegas Traffic Collisions
According to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, lack of sleep and general fatigue can increase your risk of being in a collision in a serious way. To be sure, “crash risk rises dramatically with only one to two hours of sleep less than the recommended average of seven hours of sleep per night.”
It is important to recognize that drowsy driving accidents do not just happen at night when drivers are used to being asleep. In other words, fatigued driving collisions can happen on the Strip late at night when drivers are on vacation and are staying awake longer than they normally would at home, but many drowsy driving crashes actually occur during daylight hours when drivers simply have not gotten enough sleep the previous night. The AAA Foundation recently reported that “driving after only 4-5 hours of sleep compared with 7 hours or more is similar to the U.S. government’s estimates of the risk associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol in the U.S.”
In other words, drowsy driving can pose risks similar to drunk driving in Las Vegas.
Getting the Facts About Drowsy Driving in Las Vegas
How often do drowsy driving crashes occur? And how frequently do drivers get behind the wheel in Las Vegas without getting enough rest? According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, “Las Vegas still has some of the worst drivers in the nation,” with frequent accidents happening on Interstate 15 near the Strip and throughout the city. Does drowsy driving play a role in these crashes?
We have compiled the following statistics from the AAA Foundation, the National Sleep Foundation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Nevada Department of Public Safety:
- 321 traffic fatalities happened on Nevada roads in 2015, which was a 10.3 percent increase from the previous year, while more than 1,200 people suffered serious injuries;
- AAA estimates that about 7 percent of all collisions (regardless of whether an injury occurs), 13 percent of all crashes requiring hospitalization, and 21 percent of all deadly accidents involve drowsy driving, which would mean more than 67 fatal accidents in Nevada resulted from drowsy driving in 2015;
- Drowsy driving was responsible for at least 846 deaths in 2014, according to the NHTSA, but that number is likely much lower than the actual figure since it can be difficult to properly classify drowsy driving crashes;
- On average, the NHTSA estimates that drowsy driving results in about 37,000 injury crashes, 44,000 serious injuries, and about 72,000 total collisions;
- Given the difficulty in properly estimating drowsy driving accidents and injuries, the NHTSA has indicated that as many as 6,000 deadly crashes each year may result from drowsy driving;
- Drowsiness not only distracts drivers from the road, but it also slows a driver’s reaction time and affects a driver’s decisionmaking abilities, according to the CDC;
- Approximately 1 out of every 25 drivers (or 4 percent) admit to having fallen asleep while driving in the last 30 days alone;
- Approximately 60 percent of drivers admit to operating a motor vehicle in the last year while feeling too tired to drive, according to the National Sleep Foundation;
- Untreated sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), as well as the use of medications that cause drowsiness, are major factors in determining the risk of a drowsy driving crash; and
- Truck drivers and shift workers (who work night shifts, for example, or longer shifts) are also at greater risk of a drowsy driving crash.
Be Alert for Drowsy Drivers in Las Vegas and Take Precautions
To prevent a drowsy driving accident in Las Vegas, you should be alert for fatigued drivers on the road, and you should also know the ways to prevent a drowsy driving collision. According to the CDC, some signs of a drowsy driver can include:
- Frequent yawning or blinking;
- Driver missing her exit;
- Drifting from the lane;
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles on the road; and
- Driver hitting a rumble strip.
Remember that drowsy driving collisions occur on the Las Vegas Beltway, but they can also happen in slower traffic on the Strip. What steps can you take to prevent a drowsy driving crash in Las Vegas? The NHTSA and the CDC recommend the following:
- Get enough sleep before you drive, whether this means ensuring that you sleep at least 7-8 hours per night before a regular daily commute or getting a significant amount of rest before heading out on a family road trip;
- Ensure that your teen sleeps at least 7-8 hours per night before driving to high school in the morning;
- Do not drink any alcohol before driving—even if you remain far below the legal limit—since alcohol
- consumption can increase a person’s drowsiness; and
- Do not drive after taking medications that can cause drowsiness.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Las Vegas
Drowsy driving crashes can happen anywhere and at any speed—from low-speed fender benders on the Strip to high-speed collisions on the Las Vegas Beltway. If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you should reach out to a Las Vegas car accident attorney to learn more about your options for seeking compensation. The attorneys at Ladah Law can help. Contact us today by calling (702) 252-0055.