When a driver can’t focus on the road, he or she is putting everyone on the road at risk. Indeed, driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has released new research that shows missing just two to three hours of sleep each day can dramatically increase your chance of getting into a car accident compared with drivers who get seven hours or better of sleep per night. According to the study, driving on just four to five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can equate to driving while legally drunk.
What Lack of Sleep Does to Driving Ability
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 72,000 crashes each year cite driver fatigue or drowsiness as a primary cause. Those crashes lead to more than 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths on America’s roads.
When a driver is suffering from a lack of sleep, he or she may become stressed and drive more aggressively. There is also a greater chance that the driver will have lapses in attention, an inability to make sound decisions, and suffer from slower reaction times. Any of these factors alone or all of them combined could lead to dangerous and deadly car crashes.
People Who Are More Likely to Drive While Fatigued
Any of us could get behind the wheel of a car or truck while we are sleep-deprived, but studies show that some groups are more likely than others to do so. A few include:
- Shift workers
- Young drivers, particularly young men, ages 16-29
- People who suffer from sleep disorders
- People who take medication that causes drowsiness
- Commercial drivers
Fatigued driving accidents are a common occurrence among commercial drivers who only make money when they are on the road. Despite the strict regulations in place regarding rest hours, many commercial drivers still drive while drowsy, and cause dangerous and deadly truck accidents.
How Drowsy Driving Can Be Proven as an Accident Cause
Depending on the circumstances of a crash, proving drowsy driving as the cause can be a difficult task. In most cases, your personal injury law firm will use their resources and work with accident investigators to show that the other driver was fatigued while behind the wheel and that their condition either caused or contributed to the accident.
The NHTSA released a study called “Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes.” The agency concluded that these accidents often have some common characteristics, which include:
- Crashes occurring either after midnight or during mid-afternoon
- No skid marks, meaning the driver didn’t attempt to avoid the crash
- A single vehicle veering off of the road
- A driver alone in the vehicle
- Serious crashes often occurring on high-speed roads such as highways
An accident investigator will be able to determine some of these characteristics quickly. They can also speak to witnesses and research records which could prove that drowsy driving was a contributing factor. For example, debit or credit card receipts might show that the driver drank or ate something before driving that could make them tired. Prescriptions records may also be used as evidence. Cell phone records can show that a driver had been traveling a long distance before a crash, so was possibly fatigued.
Help For Victims of Connecticut Drowsy Driving Accidents
Getting behind the wheel of a car while drowsy is irresponsible at best. Some states have even criminalized driving while fatigued, but Connecticut hasn’t yet taken that bold move. While drowsy driving may not be illegal in our state, the fact is that every driver has a responsibility to behave in a manner that keeps others from harm.
When someone does drive while fatigued, whether a commercial driver or not, they should be held accountable when their actions cause harm to others. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident that was caused by a fatigued driver, it’s vital that you protect your rights.
At The APEX Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys will review the circumstances of your case and advise you of your options to pursue full and fair compensation for your losses. Contact us today at (860) 900-0900) or online to schedule a free consultation.