If you’ve ever driven behind a car that is swerving in and out of their lane and seems to be disengaged with the rules of the road, you might conclude that they are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While this is a fair assumption, there’s another option that people might not consider as often—the driver might be fatigued.
Driving while fatigued is a dangerous behavior and can result in a serious accident. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2013, 72,000 car accidents were caused by people who were driving while fatigued. These numbers are alarming, and it’s important to be aware of potentially fatigued drivers so you can stay safe when you’re on the road.
Georgia Law and Fatigued Drivers
There are a variety of laws designed to protect people from unsafe drivers on the roads. From DUI arrests, new legislation aimed to reduce the problem of distracted driving, and clearly posted speed limits and signage, there are many attempts to limit the actions of dangerous drivers in Georgia.
Unfortunately, there has yet to be a law passed that addresses the issue of fatigued driving for all drivers. Part of the issue could be that driving while fatigued is difficult to prove in a standard highway stop. There is no specific test that can indicate that a person is too tired to drive.
Still, recent studies at the National Sleep Foundation have made the connection that driving fatigued can be equated to driving while intoxicated. In fact, they found that a driver who hadn’t slept for 18 hours were likely to drive as if they had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.05. Those drivers who stayed awake for a full 24 hours were compared to a person with a BAC of 0.10. For reference, in Georgia, it is illegal to drive if your BAC is 0.08 or higher. Although the law does not specifically identify the issue of driving while fatigued, it is clear that this is dangerous behavior and can result in serious accidents.
Signs that a Driver is Fatigued
When you are on the road, it is important to recognize the signs that a person is too tired to drive. In some cases, you might be a passenger who needs to alert the person driving the car that it is time to pull over and switch. In other instances, you will notice another car driving erratically and realize the driver might be fatigued.
The person driving the car you’re riding in might be too tired to drive if:
- You notice their head is nodding
- You can see that they are briefly closing their eyes
- They become slow to respond or unresponsive to conversation
- They turn up the music loudly in an attempt to stay alert
- They have a difficult time recognizing traffic signs, especially in the dark
Another driver on the road could be fatigued if they are showing these signs:
- Swerving in and out of their lane
- Over-correcting when they shift into another lane
- Suddenly braking for no reason
- Driving significantly above or below the posted speed limit
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals, running a red light, or driving through a stop sign without pausing
If you suspect another driver is fatigued and creating a dangerous situation, try to pass with caution. Leave plenty of room to maneuver your car in the event that they become alarmed and act unpredictably. If you do not feel comfortable going around the potentially fatigued driver, pull off to the side of the road when you are out of danger and wait a few minutes before continuing on your way.
How an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
The hours and days after a car accident can feel overwhelming. If you have sustained injuries and need to spend time in the hospital, your entire schedule can change overnight. Once medical bills start to arrive in the mail, the financial stress of the accident can start to feel very real. Working with a skilled personal injury lawyer can help to answer questions you might have about your legal rights after such an accident. A lawyer can also help in the following ways:
- Communicate directly with the insurance company on your behalf—claims adjusters are notorious for initially offering a much lower amount than you are due for your injuries. An experienced attorney can negotiate with the insurance companies with the intention of gaining fair compensation for your current and future medical care, the damage caused to your car, and lost wages due to time off work while you heal.
- Find medical experts who can speak to the extent of your injuries and discuss the potential need for long-term treatment. This can help support your request for monetary coverage of future treatment.
- Work to obtain the police report that outlines the details of the accident. This document can be especially helpful if the officers made notes about the behavior of the driver, specifically if the police asked questions to indicate they were driving while fatigued.
- Guide you through the claims process—file paperwork on time, make sure that any potential witnesses have been contacted, schedule any necessary meetings, etc.
Schedule an Appointment with an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Today
When you’re involved in a car or truck accident with another driver who you believe was fatigued, it can be incredibly frustrating. It’s especially difficult when you start imagining that the entire accident could have been avoided if the driver had taken the time to rest before getting behind the wheel. Fatigued drivers are a hazard to everyone on the roads in Atlanta, and show a lack of concern for the safety of those around them.
This type of accident can feel like a personal insult, and when injuries are sustained, it can be tough to know how to proceed. The experienced car accident attorneys at Hasner Law understand the emotional and physical damage that can be caused by a fatigued driver and we are here to help protect your rights. We will work to represent your best interests and pursue monetary damage to cover your losses.
Call us today at 678-888-4878 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.