Personal Injury Lawyer
For a number of reasons (none of them good), Americans seem to wear their tiredness as a badge of honor. To be fatigued and chronically under-rested is somehow a sign that a person is either abnormally productive or too into living life to worry about sleeping.
But lack of sleep is terrible for the body and the brain. It drastically reduces performance during waking hours and leads to long-term health consequences. And while it isn’t discussed nearly enough, being fatigued or drowsy behind the wheel creates immediate danger for the drowsy driver and anyone else he encounters on the road.
What Constitutes Drowsy Driving?
Nodding off behind the wheel is an obvious sign of fatigued/drowsy driving, but it is not the only risk. When we are tired, our reaction time is significantly slower and it is much harder to pay sustained attention to what we’re doing. Therefore, drowsy drivers are likely to be lost in thought or very slow to react to coming danger.
Accidents caused by drowsy driving may include some seemingly odd details such as veering off the road for no apparent reason (not reacting to oncoming traffic, for instance). In many cases involving two-vehicle crashes, the drowsy driver didn’t even attempt to brake before the crash due to dangerously slow reaction times.
The Statistics May Surprise You
How common are drowsy driving crashes? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is a contributing factor in at least 100,000 auto accidents each year on U.S. roads. Those crashes result in approximately 1,500 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. In all, losses due to drowsy driving crashes amount to about $12.5 billion annually.
Who Is At Risk, And When?
For people who keep regular schedules (sleeping at night and awake during the day) drowsy driving is most likely to occur when we are naturally at our sleepiest. This includes early morning, late at night and, for some, in the middle of the afternoon.
There are certain factors that increase the risk of drowsy driving. One is doing shift work, where your work hours may include overnight shifts. Those with sleep disorders or those taking certain medications are also at risk.
But any of us can cause a drowsy driving accident simply by neglecting adequate sleep. Whether we are staying up late to study or have fun, or getting behind the wheel when we know we are fatigued, the risks are very real.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured By A Drowsy Driver
Drowsy driving isn’t a clear-cut violation of law like distracted driving or drunk driving. But it can be just as dangerous and just as negligent. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured (or worse) by someone who should not have been on the road due to drowsiness, you can seek compensation and justice. To better understand your rights and options, contact a law firm and speak to an experienced attorney, like a car accident lawyer from Barry P. Goldberg.