Despite common sense and repeated warnings from experts about getting the proper amount of rest, tired or inebriated drivers still get behind the wheel and get involved in car accidents.
Falling asleep behind the wheel is easily preventable. We’ll list the most common factors that contribute to car accidents caused by sleep deprivation and what to do if you were injured by a drowsy driver.
How Many Car Accidents Are Caused By Sleep Deprivation?
The NHTSA estimates that there were 91,000 motor vehicle crashes due to drowsy driving in 2017, with around 50,000 people injured. More than 4,000 people between 2013 and 2017 were killed in drowsy driving car accidents.
However, the precise number of drowsy-driving accidents, injuries, and deaths is not known. Statistics for sleep deprivation and car accidents rely on either self-reports from drivers, police reports, or hospital workers.
Crash investigators look for signs of fatigue at a scene but such cues may not always be apparent in the aftermath of a crash. There is broad agreement among traffic safety, sleep science, and public health communities that the impact of drowsy driving is underestimated.
AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drowsy driving is widespread among drivers. Here are a few facts that the study found:
- One in six fatal crashes, one in eight crashes that resulted in hospitalization, and one in 14 crashes in which a vehicle is towed involved a drowsy driver.
- Younger drivers between the ages of 16-24 were more likely to be involved in falling asleep at the wheel accidents.
- Two out of three drowsy driving crashes involved men.
- More than half of drowsy driving accidents involved the driver drifting into other lanes or off the road.
- One in 10 drivers reported falling asleep or nodding off while driving within the past year.
Top 3 Factors Involved in Drowsy-Driving Crashes
Sleepiness can strike and cause crashes at any time of the day but these top three factors are the most commonly associated with the issue:
- Drowsy-driving crashes occur most often between midnight and 6 a.m. and late afternoon. At both times of day, people naturally experience dips in their circadian rhythm (the natural cycle that controls alertness and sleep).
- Crashes caused by fatigue often involved a single driver without passengers veering off the road.
- Many drowsiness accidents occur on rural highways and roads.
Fatigue Is a Widespread Problem
It comes as little surprise that the average American is not getting enough quality sleep. In a society that operates 24/7, demanding jobs, long commutes, and the ever-changing landscape of technology and entertainment prevent most people from getting the sleep they need.
Sleep deprivation can be caused by numerous factors, including:
- Driving overnight on a road trip
- Health problems (narcolepsy, sleep apnea, etc.)
- Illicit drugs
- Staying up late
- Taking care of a newborn
- Working late or long shifts
Fatigue has costly effects on public safety and health. It impairs mental acuity and performance, hand-eye coordination, and driving skills.
The Hazards of Drunk and Drugged Driving
Alcohol, some over-the-counter medicines, and illegal substances can also increase drowsiness and impairment. A driver who consumes alcoholic beverages or takes medication that can cause drowsiness and then gets behind the wheel of a car or truck may be held liable for more than just the wreck.
If their negligent choice is what caused the accident, a personal injury lawyer can pursue punitive damages in addition to the damages sought in a personal injury claim. Drivers who operate a vehicle while high or intoxicated need to be held accountable for their actions.
Avoid drinking alcohol before driving and always check your medication to see if drowsiness is one of the side effects.
Drowsy Driving Car Accident Lawyer
Sleepiness, drowsiness, and fatigue contribute to more wrecks than most people realize. Underreporting happens because it may be overlooked, a driver was unaware of how tired they were, or a driver is reluctant to admit that they fell asleep at the wheel.
Our personal injury law firm can help you hold the negligent driver responsible. They chose to drive while tired or drunk — you shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake, whether you were a passenger in their vehicle or another driver on the road with them.
Contact our team of personal injury lawyers today to discuss your car accident claim and legal rights.