The media spends a lot of time warning us about distracted driving and drunk driving and for good reason. These negligent acts kill and injure thousands of Arizonans each year. But there is another form of negligent driving that also puts people at serious risk of getting hurt in a car accident: drowsy driving.

Many adults do not get enough sleep at night. Nevertheless, they get into their car in the morning and drive to work. Imagine the driver in the vehicle next to yours on the highway is nodding off. In seconds, their car could drift into your lane and sideswipe you, or rear-end the vehicle in front of them and set off a chain-reaction wreck.

Drowsy driving crashes in the United States

This sort of thing happens more than you might think, with terrible results. In 2017, drowsy driving killed 795 people in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There were a total of about 91,000 auto accidents that year caused by sleep-deprived motorists.

Lack of sleep affects your brain much like drugs or alcohol. It dulls the senses, reduces reaction time, and impairs judgment. Drinking coffee in the morning can feel helpful, but experts say that caffeine is not as effective as it seems. An exhausted driver may think they are alert after drinking coffee, but they are likely still impaired. At best, caffeine is a short-term solution. The only real way to prevent a drowsy driving accident is to get enough sleep the night before.

The effects of a sleepy driving wreck

A sleepy driver can crash into you and give you serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), a spinal cord injury, and damage to your neck or back. If you are hurt badly enough, you may be unable to work anymore. You could be forced to live in chronic pain, limited mobility, or both.

In Arizona, anyone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident because of someone else’s negligence has the right to seek compensation from that negligent party. If you were hurt by a drowsy driver, you need to know your options. Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.