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How Common is Drowsy Driving?

When an individual driving a vehicle is too exhausted to remain fully alert, it is known as “drowsy driving.” Driving in a tired or sleepy state can cause the driver to have slower reaction times, decreased alertness, and impaired thinking. The driver may even fall asleep while operating the vehicle.

In the US, drowsy driving is a significant cause for concern. The outcomes of drowsy or fatigued driving are often catastrophic. Drowsy driving refers to the hazardous combination of driving and lassitude or sleepiness. This is typically the case when the driver has not gotten an adequate amount of sleep. However, it can also occur due to medicines, drinking alcohol, sleep conditions, or working in shifts.

It is not possible to predict the exact second when sleep affects the body. While falling asleep during driving is undoubtedly risky, being sleepy impacts a person’s ability to drive safely, even if they do not fall asleep. Drowsiness may cause the following:

  • Make an individual less able to focus on the road
  • Decrease the reaction time if the driver has to steer or brake abruptly
  • Impact a person’s ability to make sound decisions

How frequently do Americans Succumb to Sleep while Driving?

A survey involving 150,000 adult participants in 19 states and DC revealed the following:

  • Four percent of the participants stated that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel on at least one occasion in the previous 30 days.
  • Individuals who snored or typically slept six or fewer hours daily were more susceptible to falling asleep when operating a motor vehicle. 

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is a contributory factor to a minimum of 100,000 motor-vehicle accidents and over 1,500 fatalities annually. Approximately 71,000 accidents involving drowsy driving lead to non-fatal injuries.

Drowsy driving leads to an estimated yearly loss of nearly $12.5 billion. Cases of drowsy driving usually go unreported when police officers fill out an accident report. It can be challenging to detect drowsy driving as the reason for a crash unless the driver owns up to falling asleep.

The National Sleep Foundation indicates that nearly 50 percent of adult drivers in the US confess to regularly driving while feeling sleepy. Almost 20 percent agree to falling asleep when driving at some point in the previous year, while over 40 percent reveal that this has occurred on at least one occasion in their driving careers.

Key Facts on Drowsy Driving

Time

The most common times for drowsy-driving crashes to occur are late night and early morning as these are the natural sleep periods for the body. On top of this, the middle of the afternoon is also a time when sleepiness peaks. The probability of older adults having a drowsy-driving crash during mid-noon is higher.

Speed

Devastating accidents related to drowsy driving typically happen at high speeds on major roadways and highways. But accidents due to being drowsy behind the wheel can also take place at slower speeds.

Driver attitude

In many instances, drowsy drivers do not make any effort to apply brakes or avoid a crash. Many cases involve at least one vehicle veering off the road.

Risk Factors

Risks related to drowsy driving increase with even a single night of inadequate sleep or poor sleep. However, some individuals face an increased risk of drowsy driving.

Untreated Sleep conditions

Many people experiencing narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea may remain untreated. Severe sleepiness in the daytime is a common side effect related to sleep apnea. In the case of narcolepsy, a person may fall asleep suddenly. These sleep disorders increase drowsy driving risks.

Shift work

The risk for drowsy driving is higher for individuals whose work involves rotating shifts or night shifts, such as pilots, doctors, nurses, police officers, and truck drivers. There is a significant risk of drowsy driving when such people drive home after their shift.

Drug-related side effects

Sleepiness is a side effect of many medications. Individuals on such drugs face an increased risk of drowsy driving.

Young men

Accidents that occur due to drowsy driving happen most frequently among teenage males and men in their 20s and 30s. Such crashes typically happen between 11 pm and 8 am.

Drowsy-driving Warning Signs

  • Unable to notice turns or road signs
  • Veering onto other lanes or rumble strips located on the shoulder
  • Yawning
  • Drifting too close to nearby vehicles
  • Challenges in keeping the head up and “nodding off”
  • Inability to keep the eyes from closing

Prevention

Turning up the sound system or rolling the windows down may not do much to increase your attentiveness while driving. Some better techniques to avoid drowsy driving are as follows:

  • Before driving ensure that you get a good night’s sleep for seven to eight hours
  • Avoid driving at late hours
  • Avoid driving solo
  • Share the task of driving with a co-passenger on a long trip
  • Consume caffeine for a short-term alertness boost
  • Take a brief nap after having caffeine for maximum effect
  • Arrange for a ride back home after a late-night shift

Experienced Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyers in CT

Drowsiness and/or fatigue while behind the wheel can lead to devastating, and sometimes, fatal consequences. If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in a drowsy driving-related crash, you may be eligible to claim damages. The skilled attorneys at Apex Law Firm, LLC, can help you at every step of the way. Call at (860) 900-0900 today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.

Drowsy Driving Accidents in Hartford County

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.