Drowsy Driving Car Accidents
Drunk driving and distracted driving may get more publicity and media attention, but drowsy driving can be just as dangerous, particularly if a driver falls asleep at the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is responsible for more than 100,000 car accidents every year, including 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths nationwide. Many of these wrecks could have been prevented if the driver was aware of the dangers of drowsy driving, and how important it is to get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.
Given the number of car accidents that happen every year as a result of drowsy driving, and the fact that too many people are unaware of how serious the problem is, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has named drowsy driving as one of the most significant and unrecognized traffic safety hazards in the country. In fact, most people are surprised to learn that someone who has gone without sleep for 21 hours can experience some of the same effects as those who have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. Driving on too little sleep can affect a driver’s ability to make quick decisions, which can cause him or her to miss an exit or an important traffic sign. In some cases, drowsiness can cause a person to drift in and out of lanes, or into oncoming traffic. This can have devastating results, especially if the car is involved in a head-on collision.
Individuals at Greater Risk for Drowsy Driving Car Wrecks
Anyone who has not had the recommended daily amount of sleep is at risk for being in a drowsy driving accident. However, the National Sleep Foundation reports that the following people are at greater risk of falling asleep at the wheel:
- Anyone who has had fewer than six hours of sleep, or is sleep deprived in general, is three times more likely to cause a car accident.
- Long-haul drivers, or those people that work in the transportation industry, are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Approximately 15 percent of heavy truck accidents are due to drowsy driving.
- Anyone who suffers from a chronic sleep disorder, including sleep apnea, is up to seven times more likely to fall asleep while driving.
- People who work long hours are at risk for drowsy driving accidents. Night shift workers, in particular, are six times more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash.
- Individuals who are taking any medications that are known to cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and sleep-aids, are at greater risk of sleep-related accidents.
- People who work 60 hours per week or more are at a 40 percent increased risk.
- Young, inexperienced drivers, particularly males under the age of 26, are more likely to fall asleep while driving.
While over one in ten Americans admit that they have fallen asleep while driving at some point, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, proving that an accident was caused by drowsy driving can be difficult. Drunk driving can be easily proved using a Breathalyzer test, but there is no comparable test to confirm drowsy driving caused a wreck. However, law enforcement will consider the following factors when determining whether fatigue was responsible:
- Skid mark analysis
- Employment records that show whether an employee worked long hours without a break for sleep
- Traffic cameras can provide footage of the driver’s behavior prior to the crash
- New vehicles come with technology that records information about how an individual was driving at the time of the accident
- Witness testimonies
Carroll County Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Drowsy Driving
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driver, you are urged to contact the Carroll County car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for assistance. Our experienced and dedicated team is committed to obtaining the maximum financial compensation for our clients and we will not stop fighting until justice has been served. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Carroll County, which includes the towns of Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville, Taneytown, Union Bridge, and Westminster.