Many people don’t think about how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel when tired, yet it can prove as harmful as driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. About one half of adult drivers or 100 million people, have admitted to feeling drowsy in the past year while driving their vehicle.
Two in 10 or 32 million people have admitted to actually falling asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving is a huge problem in the United States and in Florida in particular. National Drowsy Driving Prevention week is November 6-12. The first week of September is Florida’s “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fatigued or drowsy drivers could account for as many as 15 to 33% of fatal accidents. In 2011, 2,826 crashes in Florida were attributed to drowsy driving. 21 people were killed and 2,393 were injured. The NHTSA estimates that each year driver fatigue results in 100,000 reported crashes, 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries.
Why Driving While Sleepy is a Problem
Individuals particularly prone to fall asleep at the wheel are young people aged 16 to 29, shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by working long or irregular hours and individuals with sleep disorders. Commercial drivers, such as long-haul truckers, drivers who do not get adequate sleep and jet-lagged business travelers also put themselves at risk for drowsy driving.
Sleepiness slows reaction time, impairs judgment, decreases awareness and increases the risk of crashing.
Many things can cause drowsy driving, such as:
- Sleep loss
- Driving patterns (driving very late or very early or driving without a break, for example)
- Use of sedating medications
- Sleep disorders (Sleep Apnea Syndrome and Narcolepsy)
A study by researchers in Australia found that being awake for 18 hours produced impairment equivalent to driving with a BAC level of .05 and being awake for 24 hours produced impairment equivalent to driving with a BAC level of .10.
If a driver is driving on the highway at a speed of 60 miles per hour, then he/she is traveling at approximately 88 feet (or the length of a basketball court) per second. Nodding off for even just a second can prove deadly.
Falling Asleep at the Wheel Accidents
New Jersey is the only state that has successfully passed legislation addressing drowsy driving. While attorneys can use car accident reports, cell phone records and witness testimony, proving drowsy driving is difficult.
Drowsy driving can be considered negligent if the individual was sleep-deprived and knew he/she was sleep-deprived before getting behind the wheel. Florida is one of several states where drowsiness has been cited in criminal cases involving a vehicle accident death.
Usually, tell-tale signs indicate that a driver was drowsy or falling asleep. Signs such as lack of braking or evidence that the car drove off or suddenly jerked back onto the pavement as the driver awoke are things our legal team can look for.
If you were injured or your loved one died because of a drowsy driver, you could be entitled to pain and suffering damages, loss of income damages, medical or funeral costs, and even punitive damages.
Because people know when they are getting sleepy and can pull off to rest at any time (or choose to not get in the car in the first place), there is no excuse for drowsy driving. Drowsy driving is just as negligent as speeding, texting or running through red lights.
When we represent you, we will thoroughly investigate every factor that may have contributed to the accident. If we can prove the other driver had lack of sleep, was driving between the hours of midnight and 6 am for long stretches of a time, or that the driver was prescribed to over-the-counter medications such as tranquilizers, allergy medicines or cold medicines, we might be able to prove that the driver was driving drowsily.
Contacting Roman & Gaynor: Clearwater Auto Accident Lawyers
We will investigate how much sleep the driver got the night before and how long he/she was behind the wheel. If you were involved in a truck accident, we can review the driving log of the truck driver. Sometimes a negligent driver or his/her passenger will admit to driving drowsily as well.
If we can establish that the other driver was driving drowsily, we will fight for punitive damages to punish the negligent driver and to help you receive the entire amount you need to move forward.
For more information, contact Roman & Gaynor today!