Most drivers know that drunk driving is extremely dangerous, both for individual drivers and for anyone else on the road with them. There are around 5.5 million car accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Centers for Disease Control estimate that about a third of all fatal accidents involve drunk driving, and approximately 1.4 million arrests are made annually for drunk driving.
Now, a new study is suggesting that certain sleeping pills can impair drivers as much as alcohol can. That’s relevant news for drivers who want to be responsible in their driving habits, as well as for auto accident injury attorneys or anyone else involved with auto injury lawsuits and personal injury law (52% of personal injury lawsuits are filed in response to auto accidents, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics).
Study: Sleeping Pills Impair Drivers As Much as Alcohol
A new study led by the University of Washington’s pharmacy school used data from medical and driving records to determine that patients on three prescription sleep aids have a much higher risk of car accidents than those who are not — even after the pills should no longer be affecting them.
Patients on the medication Restoril were shown to have a 27% higher risk of being in a crash (over a period of five years). Patients on Oleptro had a 91% higher risk. And Ambien users were more than twice as likely to be involved in a crash during that five-year period. As the researchers noted in the study, those risks are roughly equivalent to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.06% to 0.11%, with 0.08% being the legal limit.
What to Do If You Suspect a Driver Is Impaired
It’s good to have this information for yourself to ensure you don’t end up in an accident and facing an auto injury lawsuit; just because a drug is legally prescribed doesn’t mean it won’t have dangerous side effects. But it’s good to keep in mind regarding other drivers, as well. Knowing that there are many ways a driver can be impaired, what can you do if you spot an unsafe driver exhibiting characteristics typical of someone driving under the influence? There are three steps you should take:
- Stay a safe distance away from the vehicle in question to reduce your risk of being hit.
- Collect the license plate number and a description of the car, if you can safely do so.
- Call 911 and report the car’s identifying information and location. Never try to signal a driver to pull over by yourself — that’s better left to the police.
Have you seen any other news lately that pertains to auto injury lawsuits? Share and discuss it in the comments.