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Drunk, Drowsy, or Distracted: Which is the Most Dangerous?

Negligent Driving Actions Could Cost You

Negligent driving behaviors are on the rise, and most drivers may not even know it. Actions like driving under the influence, drowsy driving, and distracted driving have all proven to cause severe accidents daily, and yet they remain part of many motorists' routine.

Often these instances continue to occur simply because many drivers are not aware of the real consequences that may come with them or how dangerous these actions really are. However, despite all being considered negligent, they might vary in terms of inherent danger.

Driving Under the Influence

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), 5,012 crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurred in 2019, resulting in 393 fatalities. Despite being only 1% of overall crashes, these accounted for 12% of deaths on Florida roads.

While we have always been told that driving under the influence can come with dangerous consequences, motorists may still be unaware of how a simple happy hour can impair driving ability. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the effects can change depending on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC):

  • .02: can impact visual function, multitasking ability.
  • .05: can affect coordination, response time, and those listed above.
  • .08 (the legal limit in Florida): can impair concentration, short-term memory, speed and reactionary control, processing times, depth perception.
  • .10: inhibits the ability to make decisions (like braking) and steering.
  • .15: significant impacts on vehicular control, attention, and visual/auditory function.

Since each person has a different alcohol tolerance, one drink could severely impair a younger or smaller driver. To reduce the risk of an accident caused by driving under the influence, having a backup plan like a designated driver or rideshare service is usually the safest option after having one or more drinks.

Drowsy Driving

The FLHSMV estimates that over 3,700 drowsy driving-related crashes occurred in 2019, resulting in 12 fatalities. Although there were more crashes of this nature than DUI crashes, a significantly smaller number of injuries and deaths resulted, which may warrant the assumption that these are far less dangerous. But this is not always the case.

A study in the journal Nature found that when a driver operates a motor vehicle when fatigued, it can have the same effects as driving with a BAC of .10. However, drowsy driving may be more dangerous because it is much more of a widespread issue.

37% of those responding in a CDC-funded survey reported having dozed off or fallen asleep while driving. Furthermore, researchers at The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimate that around 21% of all fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. This is comparable to alcohol-impaired fatal crashes at 28%.

Distracted Driving

Florida's distracted driving law went into effect in October 2019, specifically targeting using electronic devices. As such, the state recognizes that texting (or other distractions) while driving can be detrimental to the health and safety of everyone on the road. However, as this law took effect, Florida experienced some of the highest rates of distracted driving fatalities in over five years.

The state recorded about 49,306 distracted driving crashes in 2019, resulting in 267 deaths. This is about 12% of all crashes and a little over 8% of fatalities. This number increased over 2020, despite the year being an anomaly for driving statistics. During this time, it also accounted for 8.5% of crashes on a nationwide scale.

Like drowsy driving, the prevalence of distractions - defined as anything that impairs your cognitive, visual, or manual function while driving - continues to increase. Studies have found that about 90% of motorists report using their smartphones while driving. This is problematic because even if you take your eyes off the road for five seconds, you will have traveled about the length of a football field at 55 mph. If this is routinely occurring, most of the morning commute will have been spent without hardly knowing anything that happened on the road.

Which is the Most Dangerous?

Despite being one of the most widespread negligent behaviors that one can do while driving, considering the crash-to-fatality rate, distracted driving may be regarded as less dangerous than driving under the influence and drowsy driving. However, just because DUI is involved in more fatal crashes does not mean that the other two are in the clear.

Each motorist has a responsibility to make the roadway safer for all drivers, and engaging in behaviors that could potentially endanger others on the road may do the individual more harm than good.

Florida Car Accident Attorneys

Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez, P.A. is committed to making the roads safer by helping injured drivers obtain compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of a negligent driver, call (954) 833-1440 to schedule a consultation today.
 

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