What is Drowsy Driving?

What is Drowsy Driving?

When it comes to safe driving and car accidents, there are some things that are easy to avoid. If you’ve been drinking alcohol, you can call a rideshare service. If you are worried about being distracted by your phone, set it to silent and put it in your center console. Additionally, easy things like driving within the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt can significantly decrease the chances of a collision.

Other aspects of safe driving are less simple — including the idea of drowsy driving. It can be harder to gauge how tired you are when you get behind the wheel. Suddenly, your eyelids are heavy, and you’re hoping that you will be able to make it home. In the most extreme cases, the next thing someone knows, they wake up after driving off the road or even hitting another car.

Drowsy driving, and proving related negligence if a car accident happens, is a complicated legal concept that can still have a significant impact on the outcome. If you have been affected by drowsy driving, learning more about what it is, what can cause it, and how a lawyer can help your case, is a critical step to achieving the best possible outcome for your situation.

What Is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is operating a motor vehicle when the driver is tired to the point of being impaired. A person does not have to literally fall asleep at the wheel or even be nodding off to be driving drowsy. Being tired or fatigued enough, whether from a long day or lack of sleep, for it to negatively affect the ability to safely operate a car can result in drowsy driving.

From a legal standpoint, a driver can be considered negligent if he or she knowingly got behind the wheel while fatigued or sleep deprived.

Why Do People Fall Asleep While Driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one in 20 drivers have reported falling asleep while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year, falling asleep at the wheel causes about 328,000 car accidents — with 109,000 injuries and 6,400 deaths.

It’s also important to note that these types of accidents can also happen before a person falls asleep. Drowsy driving can even be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you think that you can drive while you’re exhausted, the reality is that this type of fatigue will cause you to have a significantly slower reaction time. When driving with the flow of traffic on a highway, as little as four or five seconds of inattentiveness can mean traveling as much as 100 yards. That’s plenty of space and time to cause a catastrophic accident.

Groups with the highest drowsy driving risk include truck drivers and shift workers. But there are several factors that can contribute to any person feeling drowsy while driving. The most common include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Taking certain medications
  • Sleep disorders
  • Alcohol consumption

Anything that could cause a driver to become too tired to remain alert will result in impaired driving. That’s why it’s important to know the signs when operating a motor vehicle.

Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving

Everyone gets tired. And, more likely than not, most people have had life experiences that have caused them to lose sleep. But there are certain warning signs that should never be ignored while you’re driving. These are indications that you should pull over as soon as it’s safely possible to either take a nap in your vehicle, or call someone for a ride:

  • Yawning frequently
  • The need to blink constantly to stay awake
  • Difficulties keeping your head up
  • Feeling irritable
  • Swerving from your lane
  • Difficulty remembering the past several miles
  • Missing traffic signs
  • Missing your exit
  • Difficulty maintaining your speed

If you’re driving and experience any of the above, do not try to tough it out or think you’re fine for just a few more miles. Doing so can result in a serious accident that can cause property damage, serious injury, and even loss of life.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

There are several things you can do to prevent an accident from drowsy driving. These include:

  • If possible, arrange for someone to give you a ride home after a shift
  • If on a road trip, share driving shifts with a passenger
  • If you’re by yourself, take a nap prior to driving
  • If possible, get a full night’s sleep, seven to eight hours, the night before
  • Drink caffeinated beverages

How a Lawyer Can Help In a Drowsy Driving Case

In the aftermath of any car accident, a thorough investigation is critical. Proving negligence in the case of a drowsy driving accident may be particularly challenging, as there can be less evidence compared to impairment due to alcohol or other substances. Having a lawyer in your corner will ensure that the investigation into the accident is conducted fairly and accurately, whether you or the other driver have been accused of drowsy driving.

To accurately determine drowsy driving, it is necessary to discover all factors that may have contributed to the collision. Along with obtaining your sworn testimony of the events of the accident, an attorney can perform a thorough fact-finding that includes obtaining:

  • Testimony of additional witnesses
  • Police reports
  • Any photographic or video evidence
  • Reconstruction of the events of the collision put together by accident reconstruction experts

It is important for liability to be based on the facts and any pertinent details. Having legal representation can help you be confident that anything relevant to your case is included. Accident attorneys will also have experience working with the insurance carriers of both parties to facilitate fair compensation.

Were You in a Car Accident that Involved Drowsy Driving? Call Clark Hartpence Law for a Consultation

There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step. We can also ensure that you receive proper compensation for any present as well as future medical expenses relating to any injuries.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.