The rate of drowsy driving is higher in Texas than in any other state. The effect of drowsy driving is similar to the effect of drunk driving.

“There are not enough hours in the day.” This common expression may appropriately represent the pressures busy professionals, parents and students in Texas feel as their schedules pile up. When there is more to do than time allows, something has to give. In some cases, sleep may become less of a priority.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 30 percent of U.S. adults sleep less than six hours per night. The CDC notes that the National Institutes of Health recommends seven to eight hours of sleep per night for adults. In combination, the result is the possibility of millions of sleep-deprived people behind the wheel.

Texas drivers are drowsier than others

Unfortunately, this problem appears to be more pronounced in Texas than in any other state. A 2013 nationwide study conducted by the CDC found that 4.2 percent of American drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. Among Texas drivers, 6.1 percent admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, which represented the highest rate among all 19 states in the study.

The state’s relatively high rate of drowsy driving is problematic because of the risk of injury and death it produces. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving causes over 100,000 car accidents every year, corresponding to more than 70,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths.

Comparable to drunk driving

One motive behind the high rate of drowsy driving might be cultural. Whereas drunk driving is widely perceived as reckless, working long hours or otherwise sacrificing sleep for productivity can be seen as praiseworthy. However, researchers have illustrated how drunk driving and drowsy driving may ultimately pose similar injury risks to other drivers and pedestrians.

Reuters reported that a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed no material difference between drowsy driving and drunken driving. Reinforcing that study, Australian researchers observed, through cognitive tests, that the response time of sleep-deprived volunteers was 50 percent below that of well-rested volunteers. This deficiency in response time put sleep-deprived volunteers on par with people exhibiting a blood-alcohol content level of 0.05, or near the legal limit.

Difficult to legislate or enforce

One of the concerns regarding drowsy driving is that it may be challenging for legislators to deter. Other leading causes of car accidents in Texas, such as speeding and drunk driving, are easier to observe and measure. Consequently, drowsy drivers may remain prominent on Texas roads. When this hazard leads to an accident that causes injury or death, victims may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney.

Keywords: car, auto, accident, injury