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A staggering 60% of drivers will get behind the wheel while they are feeling drowsy. Another 33% of adults admit to actually falling asleep at the wheel.
Those who are sleep deprived act very similarly to drunk drivers. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that being awake for 18 hours is like having a .05 blood alcohol content. The rate doubles if you have not slept in 24 hours.
Drowsy driving is particularly troublesome because no test or evaluation can prove that a driver was tired before an accident occurred. Instead, the only reason that you may have to think that a driver was drowsy is that they admitted to it or they exhibited behaviors that would indicate that the driver was inattentive or even fell asleep.
Nonetheless, if a tired driver causes an accident, he or she may be liable for your injuries and property damage.
A Serious Problem: Drowsy Driving Statistics
In 2014, drowsy driving caused 846 deaths in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this represents approximately 2.6 percent of all traffic-related fatalities for that year. Another 37,000 crashes resulted in injuries, and 45,000 accidents involved property damage alone.
While these figures may seem high, drowsy driving is significantly underreported, which means that the real number of accidents could be much, much higher.
Causes of Tired Driving
The most obvious cause of drowsy driving is simply not getting enough sleep.
Other potential causes of drowsy driving include:
- Working rotating shifts or long shifts
- Untreated sleep disorders
- Side effects of medications
- Commercial drivers who have been operating vehicles for long periods of time.
While sleep-related accidents happen most often at night, it’s still possible for them to occur during the day. Many of the above reasons can occur at any time.
The Effects of Fatigue on Driving
Being tired affects your ability to drive effectively and in a safe way. If you are sleepy, you pay less attention to the road. You may have trouble focusing. Your reaction time is slowed, which inhibits your ability to react to dangerous situations quickly. You may not be able to avoid hazards as effectively or stop in time to prevent an accident.
Decision-making skills are also inhibited when you are tired. You may choose to engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel only because you are sleepy.
Signs of a Drowsy Driver
You should try to avoid drowsy driving and drivers if possible. You should avoid drivers that exhibit the following symptoms of driving while tired.
- Drifting in an out of their lane
- Delayed reactions, such as barely avoiding hitting the stopped vehicle in front of them
- Varying speeds frequently
- Missing stop signs or ignoring traffic signals
- Head drooping
- Making turns that are too wide for the area
Interestingly, many of the symptoms of a drowsy driver are similar to those associated with a drunk driver. If you see any signs of drowsiness, give the other vehicle plenty of space and only drive next to that car while you are passing.
If you were in an accident with someone who exhibited these signs, it is important to remember the specifics that you noticed. Drowsy driving can be difficult to prove and any specifics will help.
Legal Liability and Drowsy Driving
Every driver has a duty to other vehicles on the road to act in a way that is not dangerous or unsafe. When a driver operates a car and falls asleep or is extremely drowsy, he or she puts other people on the road at risk.
Arizona law holds people responsible for injuries and deaths they caused while driving drowsy. This means there could be legal requirements for the drowsy driver to pay for damages, injuries, medical bills, or lost wages.
If you were in an accident, and you believe the driver was drowsy, collect as much evidence as possible.
Take pictures. Take notes of any signs of drowsy driving from before, during, and after the accident.
Note the driver’s behavior, including the things they say. For example, if they tell you they are just getting off an overnight work shift, this information could be extremely important.
Call Yearin Law Office Today
Proving that a driver was tired before a crash can be difficult, but you can present evidence that will help build your case with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you suspect that the driver who caused your accident was asleep at the wheel or drowsy, contact Don Yearin at the Yearin Law Office by calling 480-526-9386. We offer free consultations to evaluate your case.