Drowsy Driving Car Accidents
Drowsy Driving is a Major Cause of Serious Car Accidents
Drowsy driving is a serious and pervasive problem in America. In a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of respondents admitted to driving while sleepy in the past year and one in three reported they had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is more than just risky – it can be deadly. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 21% of fatal car crashes are the result of a drowsy driver. Yet despite these grim statistics, drowsy driving does not seem to share the same stigma as other dangerous driving behaviors such as drunk driving or distracted driving.
Studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, going just 21 hours without sleep can have the same effect on a driver as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08%. Inadequate or poor quality sleep can reduce attentiveness, slow reaction times and impair decision-making skills. Fatigue can cause a driver to miss an exit, drift onto a rumble strip or worse – veer out of lane and into oncoming traffic, causing a serious wreck. If you were injured in an accident with a drowsy driver, our Maryland car accident lawyers can help you secure financial compensation for your injuries.
Drowsy Driving Risk Factors
Busy schedules and a culture of constant connectivity have made chronic sleep deprivation a major public health issue in America. With so few Americans getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, it is safe to say that no one is immune from being involved in a drowsy driving car accident. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified certain population groups that may be at greater risk. These include:
- Chronic or acute sleep deprivation – Getting less than four hours of sleep even one night can cause extreme drowsiness and greatly increase the risk of having a drowsy driving accident. The results are similar for those who regularly get less than six hours of sleep.
- Commercial truck drivers – Fatigue is an all-too-common problem in the trucking industry. For this reason, the federal government has developed strict rules regarding rest breaks and the number of hours truckers can drive consecutively. Unfortunately, many truck drivers operate under a system of compensation that encourages them to break the rules and continue driving even when they are too sleepy to do so safely.
- People taking certain medications – Many prescription and over the counter medications can have sedating effects. These include pain medications, antidepressants, muscle relaxers and some antihistamines. Users of these types of medications should be familiar with how the drugs affect them and should not drive if they are feeling drowsy.
- People with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders – The National Sleep Foundation estimates that more than 42 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and many of them go undiagnosed. Certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or use of sleep aids greatly increases the risk of having a drowsy driving accident.
- Shift workers and those working more than 60 hours per week – Working long hours or on rotating shifts can upset the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Irregular sleep patterns can lead to poorer quality sleep and chronic drowsiness.
- Young people, especially males under age 26 – Teens naturally need more sleep than adults, but very few are getting the nine and a half hours of sleep considered optimal for the performance of complex tasks like driving. The increased need for sleep combined with a number of lifestyle factors that lead to insufficient sleep makes this group four times more likely to be in a drowsy driving car accident than adults over the age of 30.
Proving Fatigue as a Factor in Car Accidents
Drowsy driving car accidents tend to be very serious. Statistics show that more of these crashes result in injury or death than other non alcohol-related car accidents. Unfortunately, proving liability in a drowsy driving accident can be a challenge. Many drivers are unable or unwilling to admit that they fell asleep or that drowsiness had a negative impact on their driving ability. Moreover, unlike drunk driving accident cases, there is no measurable test authorities can use to prove that fatigue was the primary cause of the crash. However, an experienced Maryland car accident lawyer who is familiar with drowsy driving car accidents will know what evidence to look for and how to use it to build a strong case against the driver who caused the wreck. Common characteristics of drowsy driving accidents include:
- Witnesses observed the driver swerving or drifting out of lane before the crash
- The accident happened during a time of day when circadian sleepiness peaks, especially late at night, early in the morning or mid-afternoon
- Driver’s employment record shows that he or she had been working long hours with inadequate time for rest
- Driver was alone
- Lack of skid marks suggests the driver did not attempt to brake
- The vehicle left the roadway or veered into oncoming traffic
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Successfully Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents
Drowsy drivers are a serious threat to themselves and others. At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our Maryland car accident lawyers hold negligent drivers accountable for the harm they have caused. We have successfully obtained over $100 million in verdicts and settlements for accident victims and their families. Contact us online or call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your free consultation with one of our dedicated and highly skilled Baltimore car accident lawyers. A qualified member of our legal team is available to take your call and answer your questions 24 hours a day.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, and we represent drowsy driving car accidents victims and their families throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.