Drowsy driving is a serious form of negligence. Some 328,000 car crashes occur every year in Oregon and across the U.S. because of it, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and 109,000 result in injuries. Around 6,400 end in death. The following is a brief overview of what makes drowsiness so dangerous.

First of all, a lack of sleep can impair drivers’ attention and ability to judge what is in front of them. It also slows down their reaction times. Going for too long without sleep will make one act literally like a drunk person. Being awake for more than 20 consecutive hours, for example, is like having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, which is the legal limit for drivers in this state.

Severe drowsiness can lead to microsleep, which are four- or five-second bursts of inattention. During one of these periods, drivers going at highway speed can travel the length of an entire football field without being aware of it.

There are various interventions that can help prevent drowsy driving. Crash avoidance technologies, such as drowsiness alert, are one example. Educational programs, especially for college campuses, are another way. Ultimately, though, drivers are better off if they simply get the minimum seven hours of sleep a night that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends.

When car crashes are clearly the result of negligence, then those who were injured through little or no fault of their own may seek compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. Proving the defendant’s negligence and negotiating for a fair settlement with the auto insurance companies can be hard to do on one’s own, so victims may wish to have the help of a lawyer.