Driver Fatigue Leads to Car Accidents

The pace of modern life only increases, and people are cramming more into a day than ever before. Some of our neighbors are working two or even three jobs just to keep the lights on, while others are packing a full course load at a nearby school or university while working full time. With a limited number of hours in each day, many people are cutting into their normal sleep schedule. And the result is a predictable increase in the number of fatigue-related car accidents.

Please call Correll Law Firm today to speak with a Winchester car accident lawyer about your accident. You deserve maximum compensation to cover the cost of repairing your vehicle, as well as medical care. We can hold a fatigued driver legally accountable if they crashed into you.

How Big of a Problem is Drowsy Driving?

We hear less in the media about the dangers of drowsy driving compared to drunk driving. But studies have shown that fatigued drivers are about as dangerous.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that:

  • About 4% of adults reported falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days.
  • Drowsy driving contributed to 91,000 crashes in 2017, causing 50,000 injuries.
  • In 2017, roughly 800 people were killed in drowsy driving accidents.

These numbers probably underplay the frequency of drowsy driving crashes. Often, drivers will blame some other factor, like “confusion” or “losing control” instead of admitting they nodded off behind the wheel. Police attribute other accidents solely to alcohol, but they could also be classified as drowsy driving accidents, since alcohol induces fatigue. Someone who is already sleep deprived is at a greater risk of falling asleep after a couple of drinks.

Fatigued Driving is Avoidable

The good news is that we don’t have to live with the risk of drowsy driving accidents. It is entirely possible to stamp out drowsy driving, but we need people to commit to public safety.

Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep at night to feel fully rested. Of course, some people don’t have good sleeping habits. They toss and turn all night, so although they might be in bed for 7 or 8 hours, they spend only a couple sleeping. Other adults are suffering from sleep apnea, which causes them to wake up continuously in the night and leaves them feeling tired in the morning. Sleep apnea can lead to nodding off behind a moving vehicle.

Teenagers need more sleep—at least 8 hours—but many of them are getting by on 2 or 3. Unsurprisingly, teens are at increased risk of a fatigue-related crash.

We realize many people are sleeping less because they are working more. It’s a difficult trade-off. Still, people should try to sleep as much as they can. And nobody should drive if they are too tired.

How Do Drowsy Drivers Cause Accidents?

One common problem is falling asleep behind the wheel, even for a couple of seconds. An unconscious driver won’t see the intersection coming or a pedestrian crossing the street. Unsurprisingly, they can smash straight into other motorists or pedestrians. They might even drift over the center line and cause a head-on collision.

Tired drivers also suffer from blurred vision and might not see as well, especially at night. Other drivers make poor choices while driving because they are too tired to think clearly.

Fatigue can also make the side effects of alcohol or even prescription drugs worse. Someone operating with a sleep deficit might end up falling asleep because they took an antihistamine, whereas a fully-rested person would not.

Unfortunately, there is no way to keep tired people away from a car. We have technology to prevent intoxicated individuals from driving, but the exhausted have free rein to get behind the wheel and drive.

Caffeine Is an Imperfect Solution to Fatigue

When people feel the signs of fatigue—yawning, blinking, and nodding off—they might pull over and buy a big coffee to counteract their drowsiness. Will it work?

In one sense, yes: a cup of coffee can keep a tired driver awake. In fact, research has shown that a cup of coffee can substantially reduce the number of errors behind the wheel. The pick-up is temporary, however. And you should not have a lot of sugar, which can cause you to “crash” and feel even more tired.

Of course, caffeine cannot counteract more extreme forms of sleep deprivation. A study has shown that it can temporarily improve reaction time but will not eliminate all errors. Ultimately, you can only rely on caffeine so much to stay awake while driving before you need to pull over and get a good night’s sleep.

What to Do after a Drowsy Driving Accident

If you were struck by a driver you believe is tired, document the crash as best you can. Remember to call the police, who can come to investigate and ask questions. They might even ticket the driver for reckless driving. At a minimum, you will get a police report.

You should also document your perceptions of the driver. Is he yawning all the time? Struggling to stand up? Or did he go lie down in his car and fall asleep as you waited for the police to arrive? These are all signs of fatigue.

Note whether the driver says anything about being tired or getting off a long shift at work. Statements like these can help your legal team pinpoint driver fatigue as the cause.

Driving with inadequate sleep is a form of negligence, which renders the motorist responsible for the collision. You should not have to shoulder the cost of your Winchester car wreck when someone without adequate sleep collides with you.

Call Our Law Firm

Correll Law Firm has handled many types of car wrecks, including drowsy driving accidents. Whether the driver fell asleep or was too tired to see clearly, they should cover the cost of your accident. Give our law firm a phone call. Correll Law Firm can negotiate a settlement for your Winchester car accident, allowing you to focus on healing.