The American Sleep Foundation has reported that approximately half of the drivers in New Mexico and across the U.S. say they have consistently driven while they felt drowsy. Drowsy driving causes effects that are similar to drunk driving, including reduced reaction speeds. The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated that 5,000 people died on U.S. roadways in 2015 due to drowsy driving.

Drivers may not be aware that they are tired because the signs of fatigue are subtle. People who have been awake for more than 20 hours, though, may be impaired behind the wheel as much as a driver with a .08 percent blood alcohol concentration, which is the legal limit in New Mexico.

Approximately 20 percent of drivers admit they have fallen asleep while driving at least once in the prior year, according to the American Sleep Foundation, and more than 40 percent said they’d fallen asleep while driving at least once in their lives. People are three times more likely to be in a car accident if they are driving drowsy compared to if they are well rested.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics indicate that around 100,000 car accidents involving drowsy drivers are reported to police each year. These crashes lead to 71,000 injuries per year. The real numbers might be higher, though, as the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety made an estimate of 328,000 annual drowsy-driving crashes for a November 2014 report.

Individuals who are injured in auto accidents that were caused by drowsy drivers may be entitled to compensation for damages like medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. An attorney might be able to help in such a case by gathering evidence or conducting depositions in preparation for trial. A lawyer with experience in personal injury law might help identify those who are liable or negotiate a settlement with at-fault parties and their insurers.