Studies show that driving while you are tired is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of adult drivers will drive even though they are tired.
This may be difficult to avoid given that just under half of all American adults and teens say that they rarely have a good night’s sleep during the week.
Consider the following frightening statistics about drowsy driving:
- Roughly 168 million people have driven while drowsy in the past year.
- Every year, drowsy driving accidents cause roughly $12.5 billion in damages and other monetary losses.
- Approximately 37 percent of adults admit to actually falling asleep while driving.
- Approximately 1,550 deaths occur every year because of crashes caused by drowsy drivers.
- Roughly 15 percent of heavy truck crashes involve driver fatigue.
- More than half of all fatigued-driver accidents involve those under the age of 25.
- Getting less than six hours of sleep per night triples your risk of being in an accident related to driving drowsy.
- After 18 hours of awake time, a person is impaired as much as being legally drunk.
The Problem with Drowsy Driving
Just like drunk drivers, drowsy drivers are less attentive and have slower reaction times. Their ability to make decisions is also inhibited.
Certain categories of drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy. They include:
- Commercial drivers (like semi drivers)
- Shift workers (driving patterns)
- Drivers that have sleep disorders (especially those that are left untreated)
- Drivers that use sedating medications
- Drivers who do not get enough sleep
Signs of Drowsy Driving
Some drivers cannot tell if they are about to fall asleep at the wheel. Even if you can tell, studies indicate that classic “stay awake” mechanisms like turning on the radio or opening a window often do not work.
Here are a few tell-tale signs that you may be heading toward dreamland:
- Heavy eyelids
- Difficulty focusing
- Frequent blinking
- Unable to recall the past several miles
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Drifting from your lane; hitting the rumble strips
- Feeling irritable or restless
If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is time to pull over and rest or switch drivers.
Car Accidents Due to Drowsy Driving
Driving while sleepy can cause accidents. Crashes that result from drowsy drivers are more likely to be severe. This could be due to a combination of the driver’s slowed reaction time and the high speeds generally involved.
A typical drowsy driving accident has the following attributes:
- The accident occurs either late at night, early morning, or midafternoon.
- One vehicle will usually leave the roadway.
- The crash occurs on an interstate, highway, or other high-speed road.
- The driver does not attempt to avoid the accident.
- The driver is the only person in the vehicle.
If you are being a careful defensive driver, you should also keep an eye out for drivers who may be falling asleep. Look for:
- Drifting in between lanes or on to the rumble strips
- Following too closely to other vehicles
- Sudden, jerking movements to the left or right
- Frequent speed fluctuations
Legal Liability and Drowsy Driving
Falling asleep at the wheel will not excuse legal liability for the drowsy driver. One driver’s lack of attention and care could cause a serious accident that involves a large number of people.
The victim must show that the sleepiness was a direct cause of the crash. Drivers often admit when they fell asleep, and that may be enough to show liability. In cases where they do not, proving that the driver fell asleep at the wheel is difficult to do. This partly because, unlike alcohol or other drugs, there is no test to determine levels of sleepiness.
Instead, investigators will look for skid marks or decide if the driver used evasive movements to avoid the crash. If the driver did not, then the accident is more likely to be a result of that driver’s drowsy driving.
We can help you get the compensation that you deserve. Call 305-379-8688 for a free case evaluation.