Falling Asleep While Driving
Brian White | November 12, 2020 | Auto Accidents
There is a great deal of information available about distracted driving and drunk driving. State and federal agencies and other organizations work hard to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving and impaired driving. However, there is an overlooked driving behavior that can be just as dangerous— drowsy and fatigued driving.
How Common are Drowsy Driving Accidents?
According to the NHTSA, 795 people died in 2017 because of drowsy driving accidents. From 2013 through 2017, 4,111 fatalities occurred in accidents involving a drowsy driver. Approximately 91,000 people were injured in an accident involving a drowsy driver in 2017.
However, the number of people injured or killed in fatigued driving accidents could be higher because many drivers do not admit that they were drowsy or fell asleep immediately before the crash.
According to one study, drowsiness was identified as a factor in 8.8 to 9.5 percent of crashes. Drowsiness was a factor in 10.6 to 10.8 percent of the crashes involving airbag deployment, injury, or significant property damage. The U.S. government statistics for drowsy driving accidents is one to two percent of fall motor vehicle accidents.
Sadly, drowsy drivers can be as dangerous on the road as drunk drivers. Fatigue can cause drivers to be less attentive. It can also cause a driver to have a slower reaction time and difficulty in making decisions.
Can We Prevent Drowsy Driving Accidents?
Yes, drowsy driving accidents are preventable. Drivers who are fatigued or drowsy should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Missing just one to two hours of sleep can double your crash risk.
Tips for remaining alert while driving from the AAA Exchange include:
- Getting plenty of rest before long car trips
- Scheduling regular breaks
- Driving during times that you would usually be awake
- Avoid driving all night after working all day
- Drinking a caffeinated beverage
- Traveling with a passenger who is awake
- Stop driving if you become sleepy or tired
It is important to note that driving with the windows down, playing loud music, using the air conditioner, and other steps to “stay awake” rarely work when you are drowsy or fatigued.
Knowing the signs of drowsy driving can also be helpful. Signs that you are too drowsy to drive can include:
- Frequent yawning or rubbing your eyes
- Having trouble keeping your eyes focused or open
- Driving past turns and missing signs
- Not remembering the last few miles driven
- Daydreaming and your mind wandering
- Inability to keep your head up (nodding off)
Traveling with another adult who can share the driving responsibility can help reduce your risk of causing a drowsy driving accident.
Drowsy Driving Accidents Can Cause Traumatic Injuries
When a drowsy driver is behind the wheel, there could be an increased risk of head-on accidents, rear-end crashes, lane change accidents, intersection accidents, and other types of car accidents. The potential for any accident increases when a driver is fatigued. Sadly, many of the accidents involving a drowsy driver result in catastrophic injuries.
Examples of drowsy driving accident injuries include:
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Chest injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Wrongful death
For some victims, a drowsy driving accident can result in permanent impairments and disabilities. The damages caused by a fatigued driver could change a person’s life forever. It could reduce their quality of life and cause pain and suffering for the victim and the victim’s family.
Damages Available for a Fatigued Driving Accident
The fatigued driver is responsible for compensating victims when the fatigued driver caused the crash. The insurance company for the at-fault driver typically compensates the victim for damages. Damages in a drowsy driving crash include:
- Cost of medical treatment and medical expenses
- Loss of wages, commissions, salaries, bonuses, benefits, and other income
- Pain and suffering damages
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
- Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
- In-home health care and personal care
- Travel expenses and other out-of-pocket costs
The amount of compensation you might receive for a personal injury claim depends on your injuries, financial losses, and other factors. If you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident, your compensation could be reduced.
Because you must prove that the drowsy driver caused the accident to hold the driver financially liable for your damages, it is a good idea to consult with a car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer investigates the crash and gathers evidence to prove fault.
Your lawyer also documents your damages and works to negotiate the best settlement agreement for your case. If necessary, your lawyer might advise you that filing a car accident lawsuit is the best way to protect your rights. However, do not wait too long to contact an attorney because the Texas statute of limitations restricts the time to file a car accident lawsuit.
Attorney Brian White & Associates, PC
3120 Southwest Fwy Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098