Most drivers have been in the position of feeling their eyelids start to droop as they struggle to stay awake while driving on the I-215, I-15 or other roadways in the Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario area. Although it is extremely dangerous to drive after not sleeping or ingesting prescription medication that makes you tired, drowsy driving has become a significant traffic safety problem. Motorists throughout the Inland Empire are working longer hours to make ends meet and/or fighting tough commutes to Orange County and Los Angeles, which limits the amount of sleep a driver gets each night.
This means that exhausted drivers frequently must fight to stay awake and concentrate on the roadway. Many drivers have had the experience of briefly dozing off only to wake up in a state of panic as their vehicle glides roughly over reflectors that separate lanes or drifts off onto the soft shoulder of the roadway. At freeway speeds, this brief “micro-nap” often requires a driver to desperately over-steer their vehicles back into the proper lane. Even the shortest period of loss of consciousness or lack of concentration can lead to fatal road departure and rollover accidents. Even if you are on a surface street on your way to the Ontario Airport, Victoria Gardens, or Ontario Mills, closing your eyes for even a couple of seconds can result in rear-ending another vehicle, driving into an adjacent lane, or plunging over the edge of an embankment.
The growing frequency of car accidents in Rancho Cucamonga and the surrounding areas caused by sleep-deprived drivers is a product of a number of factors that contribute to the general trend of Americans getting less sleep. The lifestyle of most people in the Inland Empire and throughout Southern California involves working long hours followed by lengthy commutes. When family and parenting obligations are fulfilled after getting home from work, these long hours devoted to employment leave little time for sleep. There also has been an increase in the number of people diagnosed with sleep-related disorders, such as sleep apnea which is linked to higher rates of obesity and our aging population.
The AAA Foundation reports some disturbing data regarding the growing danger posed by sleepy drivers. One in three drivers admitted to driving while extremely sleepy within the thirty day period prior to the study. While motorists might recognize the potential risk of driving without adequate sleep, a substantial number of motorists concede that they routinely ignore the danger.
These results were consistent with a prior study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The NSF study found that sixty percent of all drivers admitted driving while extremely sleepy at some time during the prior year. This amounts to 168 million drowsy drivers putting other drivers at-risk on America's roadways. California residents should find it even more disconcerting that almost forty percent of drivers admit to actually falling asleep behind the wheel. Conservative estimates by the federal government indicate that more than 100,000 car accidents are caused annually by tired and fatigued drivers.
A significant reason that lawmakers and law enforcement officers have not been particularly effective in deterring this dangerous practice is that drowsy driving is not viewed with the same sense of moral outrage as drunk driving. Many motorists who would never consider driving when intoxicated routinely operate their vehicle on less than an adequate amount of rest. In fact, approximately eleven million drivers admit involvement in a collision or a near-accident because of lack of sleep according to the NSF. Ironically, a study found that a driver who has gone 20 hours without sleep displays the same level of impairment as a driver whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% (i.e. the legal limit for DUI in California).
Sleep-deprived drivers typically experience a number of forms of impairment of their driving skills including:
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