Similar to drunk driving and distracted driving, drowsy driving causes many vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driver accidents account for more than 70,000 wrecks, causing nearly 50,000 injuries and close to 1,000 traffic deaths annually. It’s reported that more than one-fifth of fatal car accidents are caused by drowsy drivers.
Despite these statistics that show just one day’s sleep deprivation is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, drowsy driver accidents have not been addressed as vigorously as drunk driving and distracted driving by law enforcement or legislators. As a result, there are drowsy drivers on the roads across the country every day.
Who Are the Drowsy Drivers on the Road?
While anyone on the road might occasionally be fatigued due to a sleepless night or overwork, certain motorists are more likely than others to drive when drowsy:
Nearly half a million Americans suffer from sleep disorders that deprive them of sufficient rest at night and leave them tired by day. A significant number of those people take sleep aids that can leave them drowsy when they’re out driving in the daytime.
Drivers on Medication
In addition to nighttime sleep aids, other medications can make a driver drowsy:
- Muscle relaxers
- Pain pills
Truckers and other drivers may spend entire days or nights behind the wheel. Despite Federal regulations limiting the number of consecutive hours they may drive without rest, many are under pressure to meet delivery deadlines and might receive financial incentives to stay on the road, regardless of how tired they might be.
People who work overnight or on swing shifts often have irregular sleep patterns that clash with their “body clocks” and leave them sleep-deprived. Any one of them could be driving home in a drowsy state in the morning, just as you’re beginning the workday.
Most Americans start driving in their late teens—a time when their bodies still require nine or more hours of sleep per night. Their busy lifestyles and 24-hour social media connectivity, however, often prevent young adults from getting sufficient rest overnight. As a result, drivers younger than 26 are four times as likely as those over 30 to be involved in drowsy driving crashes.
What Happens When You Drive Drowsy
Although it’s difficult to determine if someone causes an accident due to drowsy driving, there are definite behaviors that a drowsy driver will often exhibit, including:
- Slow reaction times and inability to make quick decisions
- Lack of attention to other cars and traffic signals
- Lack of attention to their speed or road conditions
- Lack of attention to oncoming traffic
Proving a Drowsy Driver’s Liability
If you’re injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, you may file a claim against that driver’s insurance company for damages such as medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. If the insurer disputes your claim or fails to offer a reasonable settlement, you may file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to seek fair compensation. To prevail, however, you must prove the drowsy driver was 100% liable for your wreck.
How Our Frederick Car Accident Attorney Can Help in Drowsy Driver Accidents
Since there are no field tests for drowsy driving, proving a drowsy driver liable in Maryland often requires the services of an experienced car accident lawyer in Frederick, MD, who can investigate your crash thoroughly to establish the drowsy driver’s fault for your accident. Your attorney can:
- Interview witnesses to determine whether the car drifted out of its lane or was speeding
- Check the time of the wreck against the driver’s employment records or time sheets to determine how long the driver was awake before the crash
- Obtain a commercial truck driver’s logbook and data from the vehicle’s “black box” recorder, both of which can shed light on the trucker’s activities prior to the wreck
- Check the accident scene for skid marks or the lack thereof, which would indicate no attempt to apply the brakes before the wreck and point to drowsy driving as a cause
- Work to establish complete liability on the part of the drowsy driver, which is necessary for you to prevail under Maryland’s strict contributory negligence rule
Have You Been Involved in a Crash? Schedule a Free Consult Today!
Our experienced car accident attorney in Frederick, MD, can help you prove liability and seek fair compensation for your damages. Please contact us online, or call us at 301-790-3600 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.