Drowsy Driving Car Accidents in Howard County
The next time you decide to get behind the wheel of a car after having had too little sleep, consider the fact that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, studies show that drivers who have been awake for 24 hours can be as impaired as if they had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10, which is over the legal limit of .08. Unfortunately, drowsy driving causes up to one million car accidents each year. As a result, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety considers drowsy driving to be one the the most serious, and unrecognized, traffic safety hazards in the United States.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) conducted a poll entitled Sleep in America, where they asked participants about their driving habits and how often they got behind the wheel of a car when they were feeling drowsy. Approximately 168 million respondents – or 60 percent of adult drivers surveyed – said that they drove when they were tired within the past year, and over one third of the respondents – or roughly 103 million people – reported that they had fallen asleep at the wheel. Thirteen percent of those that fell asleep while driving reported that this happened at least once a month, and four percent said that they either had an accident or a close call as a result of drowsy driving.
Who Is at the Greatest Risk for Drowsy Driving Accidents?
Anyone who has not had a sufficient night’s sleep can be involved in a drowsy driving wreck. However, according to the NSF, the following factors increase the risk of sleep-related crashes:
- Young adults between the ages of 18-29 are more likely to drive while drowsy than older drivers.
- Men are more likely to drive while drowsy than women, and are almost twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel than women.
- Adults who have children are more likely to drive on too little sleep than adults who do not have children.
- Shift workers are more likely to drive to or from work drowsy, compared to those who work regular daytime hours.
- The less sleep a person gets, the more likely they are to be in a sleep-related accident. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours are twice as likely to be in a wreck than those that sleep eight hours. Additionally, people who sleep fewer than five hours a night are four to five times more likely to be in a sleep-related crash.
- People with undiagnosed sleep disorders like sleep apnea, as well as commercial drivers, are at greater risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Lack of Policy Leads to Unpunished Drowsy Driving
Unfortunately, even though drowsy driving is a widespread problem, it can be difficult to attribute accidents to drowsiness for a number of reasons, including the following:
- There is no test comparable to the Breathalyzer that can test a driver’s level of sleepiness.
- Each state varies in terms of how they report drowsy driving. There is also little to no police training that helps officers identify signs of drowsiness as the cause of an accident.
- Drowsy driving may contribute to other causes of car accidents like distracted driving and driver inattention.
Proving that drowsy driving caused an accident can also be difficult. However, authorities will consider certain factors when determining whether fatigue caused a crash. For example, they will look at the length of skid marks at the scene of the accident, and review footage from traffic cameras if they captured the wreck. In addition, they will review employee records to see if the driver had been working long hours with no break for sleep. If there were witnesses at the scene of the car accident, police can find out whether they saw the driver swerving or nodding off before the accident.
Howard County Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and you believe the other driver was driving drowsy, contact the experienced Howard County car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We have a proven track record of reaching successful outcomes for our clients and we will aggressively pursue the maximum financial compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, do not hesitate to call us 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 Howard County, Maryland, which includes the cities of Columbia, Elkridge, Ellicott City, Fulton, Highland, Ilchester, Laurel, and North Laurel.