At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we understand the dangers of driver fatigue all too well after handling cases for many victims who were hurt by drowsy drivers. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that drowsy driving poses just as serious a danger as drunk or drugged driving.
Keep reading to learn how you can prevent fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents as well as what you can do if the worst happens and you or someone you love suffers injuries in a wreck.
Drowsy Driving Kills More Than 800 People Each Year
According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 824 people die each year due to fatigue-related crashes. However, this data comes from police reports, and many experts believe driver fatigue goes underreported. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers might cause as many as 6,000 deaths per year.
Many drivers don’t understand how fatigue impacts their ability to operate a car or truck. When you’re tired, you have a harder time making decisions, your response times slow down, and you become inattentive. In the worst cases, an overly tired driver can lose consciousness completely.
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Research suggests that operating a vehicle when you’ve only had four or five hours of sleep poses the same crash risk as drunk driving. If you’ve had less than four hours of sleep, it’s as if you’re driving with a 0.15 blood-alcohol content level — almost twice the legal limit. With that little sleep, you’re 11.5 times more likely to crash your vehicle than if you were fully rested.
How Can I Avoid Fatigue-Related Car Accidents?
While you can’t always prevent a car wreck, you can take a few simple steps to reduce fatigue and give yourself the best chance of avoiding a crash.
Get Enough Rest Before Driving
Before you hit the road, make sure you’re well-rested. While you may feel tempted to pull an all-nighter and get to your destination, this is never a safe choice. Instead, do your best to get a full eight hours of sleep before a scheduled trip and remember to take rest breaks along the way as needed. Remember, a hotel room is a bargain compared to the costs of medical bills and property damage after a vehicle wreck.
Know the Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue
Some signs of driver fatigue are easy to identify. For most people, if they start yawning or their eyes feel heavy, they’ll realize that they’re getting tired. However, other signs of fatigue are subtler. You might be getting drowsy if you “missed” a few miles of your journey or passed your exit because your mind was wandering. Similarly, if you notice that your car is drifting or you’re hitting the rumble strips, it’s time to take a break.
Assess Your Fatigue Risk
Some people run an especially high risk of drowsiness behind the wheel. For example, if you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, you’re more likely to experience fatigue, even during the daytime. The same is true if you take certain types of sedating medications or work late or irregular hours. If you’re at a higher risk of fatigue, make sure you give yourself plenty of rest breaks or even ask someone else to drive.
Know Your Limits and Speak Up
We understand how tempting it can be to push the limits, especially if you have a schedule to keep or you’re experiencing pressure from passengers to keep driving. However, you’re always better off taking a break or calling it a night if you feel drowsy. And if you see someone else driving erratically or exhibiting signs of driver fatigue on the road, call 911 and let the operator know what you saw.
Unfortunately, no matter how carefully you drive, you can’t control other people’s negligent behavior, and you might suffer injuries because someone else decided to keep driving in a fatigued state. Read on to learn what you can do if you get hurt in a wreck because of someone else’s negligence.
What Should I Do if a Drowsy Driver Hits Me or a Loved One?
If you’re involved in a car accident with a fatigued driver, you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. First, call 911 and cooperate with the police as soon as they arrive. If the police give you permission to leave the scene, you should have a doctor evaluate you, even if you believe you only suffered minor bumps and bruises. Sometimes, you might not realize the severity of your injuries immediately after a crash since your body is full of adrenaline and some injuries take time to appear.
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Once you’ve consulted a doctor, you should call an experienced attorney who knows how to handle fatigued driving cases. Often, drowsy drivers won’t admit they were falling asleep at the wheel. This is especially true of commercial truck drivers, who sometimes cause crashes because they were breaking federal hours-of-service rules.
To keep our roads safe, the federal government sets strict rules that say how long a commercial truck driver can operate their vehicle without a break. However, trucking companies sometimes pressure their drivers to break these hours-of-service rules in the name of increased profits. Fortunately, electronic logs can often prove whether a truck driver complied with the federal rules.
When we suspect fatigue caused a crash, the team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys acts quickly with our Rapid Response Protocol. Depending on the circumstances, our attorneys will preserve important evidence like log books, GPS data, medical information, and cell phone records, all of which can help establish a driver’s time on the road and fatigue levels. After preserving and organizing all the relevant evidence, we’ll work to identify everyone who was responsible for causing the wreck and fight to hold them accountable.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting for Injured Victims of Negligence in Alabama
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a drowsy driver’s negligent or reckless conduct, the team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys is here to help. To schedule your free consultation at any of our conveniently located offices
Drowsy driving: Asleep at the wheel. (2018, November 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/index.html
Drowsy driving. (n.d.). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving
Teft, B. (2016, December). Acute sleep deprivation and risk of motor vehicle crash involvement. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from http://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/AcuteSleepDeprivationCrashRisk.pdf