Let’s face it, everyone has gotten behind the wheel despite being extremely tired at some point in their driving career. Just because we are tired doesn’t mean that life can slow down and so we push ourselves and our limits to the breaking point. While this is admirable, it simply doesn’t make drowsy driving safe.
This might seem simple, but drowsy driving normally occurs due to the driver being fatigued or generally sleepy. In most documented drowsy driving accidents, the operator of the vehicle was sleep deprived or suffered from a lack of sleep recently. However, there are many other reasons why drowsy driving might occur such as prescription medication, strong OTC medication, alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, or an undocumented sleeping disorder. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 50-70 million Americans suffer from significant sleep-related issues. The NHSTA conducted a different study and found the nearly 40% of all drivers confess to falling asleep while driving at least one time and that nearly 20% of car crashes that resulted in death were caused by drivers who fell asleep while driving.
Another factor is the type of work and some night-shifts can greatly affect how tired somebody is when getting behind the wheel. Large trucking companies and other commercial vehicles frequently cause drowsy driving accidents due to long hours on the road and not enough sleep between shifts.
Signs of a Drowsy Driver On The Road
It’s important to recognize the signals that indicate you are too tired to be driving. Many people don’t want to admit they are doing doing something unsafe and just continue to push-on. Instead, the driver should pull over to the side of the road at the nearest safe location and call an Uber, Taxi, or call a friend nearby that can help. Even pulling over somewhere safe and catching up on sleep is better than putting yourself and others at risk of an accident. Some common warning signs that you are too fatigued or drowsy to drive a vehicle include:
- Drifting out of your desired lane frequently
- Blinking frequently or closing your eyes
- Constantly yawning
- Missing your street or exit on the highway
- Being awoken by rumble strips
- Running in the shoulder repeatedly
What Are The Consequences of Drowsy Driving?
Driving an automobile is not something that can be taken lightly and it requires a person’s full attention and focus. When someone is fatigued or sleep deprived, the brain is not as sharp and does not function as it normally would when driving. Drivers that are tired don’t pay the same amount of attention they would when well rested. For example, a drowsy driver might not notice that small red car in a blind spot, they might not notice that the car ahead is slowing down rapidly, or that there is a hard to see stop sign. It’s easy to see why drowsy driving is one of the top 5 causes of car accidents in Michigan.
A driver’s decision making is impaired when they get behind the wheel drowsy or fatigued. In order to be a safe driver, you need to able to make split second decisions or maneuvers. Another major danger is the fact that a drowsy driver’s reaction time is slowed considerably. Even if somehow you are somehow able to pay attention to the road and still able to make a good decision, a slow reaction time can still prevent you from properly executing a decision or maneuver. For example, if you are traveling at a high rate of speed on the highway and you see brake lights ahead of you but by the time you react slowly it’s already too late.
Slower reaction times, reduced concentration, and poor decision making create a deadly combination and it’s easy to see why drowsy driving is so dangerous. This effect is multiplied during high traffic areas, treacherous weather conditions, high-speed limits, and dangerous intersections. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that drowsy driving is responsible for over 70,000 crashes annually.
Sleeping Behind The Wheel
Even more dangerous than drowsy driving is actually falling asleep at the wheel. When you try to push your limits of staying awake, it’s inevitable that you will fall asleep eventually. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration completed a survey where they asked drivers if they have ever fell alsleep on a highway with speeds posted over 55mph. Surprisingly, over 60% of the drivers surveyed admitted to falling asleep. With that many people falling asleep behind the wheel, it’s easy to see why this has potential to cause catastrophic and fatal accidents.
Michigan utilizes no-fault auto insurance, so your medical bills and other no-fault benefits will be paid regardless of who is at fault. However, it’s still very important to determine who was at fault for the accident. You can only be awarded 3rd party benefits including pain and suffering if the other driver was at fault for the accident. Every driver on the road has a responsibility and legal duty to drive safely and not put other drivers in danger. When you fall asleep at the wheel or drive fatigued, you fail to deliver on that responsibility. Even though drowsy driving is extremely dangerous, it is not illegal. This makes it very difficult to determine if someone was too tired to drive at the time of the accident. There is not test similar to a breathalyzer to help determine how drowsy someone was when driving. For this reason, proving negligence can be an uphill battle and it will require you to investigate the accident scene. We can help locate and interview key witnesses and hire well-renowned accident reconstruction experts that will strengthen your case and prove that you were not at fault for the accident.
Don’t Use Gimmicks To Stay Awake
There are many tricks or gimmicks that drowsy drivers use in an effort to stay awake. This might include drinking a cup of strong coffee, energy drink, turning the music way up, cranking the air conditioning, or rolling down the windows all the way. While it might seem these tactics help, they simply don’t make you any more awake or reduce the chances of falling asleep while driving. Instead of relying of dangerous gimmicks, drivers should utilize some sort of public transportation. With the growth of ride-sharing services and taxi’s available there is no excuse to giving them a call. If for some reason you are in a remote area or far away from your destination, just pull over somewhere safe (not the side of the road!) and take a short nap if necessary.
Who Does Drowsy Driving Affect The Most?
While every driver is susceptible for drowsy driving, there are certain demographics or groups that tend to have a much higher risk of drowsy driving. This can be due to high levels of streets, inexperience, long hours, drive more late at night, etc. Some of these groups that are at higher risk include:
- Night-Shift Workers
- Commercial Truck Drivers
- Inexperienced Teen Drivers
- Businessmen and Businesswomen
- Workers at airlines
Drowsy Driving Hurts Other Drivers
At The Clark Law Office, we understand that drowsy driving is a serious problem and not much different than impaired or reckless driving. We feel that if your injuries were caused by a negligent driver, that driver should be held accountable. It has been shown that drivers who routinely drive while drowsy are just as dangerous as a driver who has consumed narcotics or alcohol. If you’ve been injured in a car accident because the other driver was drowsy or too tired, contact us today for a free consultation.
Collecting Compensation Following Your Drowsy Driving Accident
Even a relatively minor auto accident can leave you with devastating injuries and financial obligations. The injuries from this type of accident are usually severe in nature, and this creates even more problems for you and your family. If you didn’t cause the accident, you shouldn’t be held responsible for their negligence. We can help you collect the compensation for your injuries and damages by helping you recover :
- Medical Bills Related To Your Injuries
- Medical Mileage
- Loss of Wages
- Replacement Services
- Attendant Care
- 3rd Party (Pain and Suffering)
Contact Our Fatigued Driving Accident Lawyers
The decisions you make following your accident can shape the way you live forever. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, contact our qualified attorneys now at (517) 347-6900. We have over 30 years of experience helping Lansing auto accident victims and we can help you. We will do everything in our power to protect your rights and help you get the financial compensation that you need and deserve.