From Nov. 1 to 8, 2020, the National Sleep Foundation will be holding its annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, so drivers in West Virginia should take note. Not enough motorists realize how dangerous it can be to drive drowsy. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adults should be sleeping at least seven hours a day, and when they don’t, they are liable to drive with impaired attention and reaction times.

In fact, a fatigued driver is three times more likely to crash. Those who have gone for 20 continuous hours without sleep will drive like someone with a blood alcohol concentration of .08. In other words, drowsy driving can start to resemble drunk driving.

Drowsy driving is more widespread than official data may make it out to be. For example, there are an average of 100,000 police-reported drowsy driving crashes each year. However, the actual number may be more around 328,000, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Half or more of drowsy driving crashes involve drivers under 25, so parents as well as universities can do a lot to reduce these numbers. Employers can do their part by setting up an off-the-job safety program for employees. Drivers can be proactive, too, and add crash avoidance technologies to their vehicles like drowsiness detection systems.

Drivers who cause motor vehicle crashes because they were too drowsy to practice safe driving can be held liable for any injuries incurred by occupants of other vehicles. As for victims, they may still face opposition no matter how strong their case is, which is why they are advised to have legal representation. A lawyer may negotiate on their behalf or, if necessary, litigate. Third parties may come in to build up the evidence against the defendant.