Hasner Law | Car Accidents | July 6, 2021
How Common is Falling Asleep at the Wheel?
Driver fatigue can cause someone to fall asleep at the wheel. You do not need to miss much sleep to increase your risk of falling asleep while driving. According to the CDC, people who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to report falling asleep at the wheel than those who slept more than six hours.
Drowsy driving and falling asleep at the wheel is a common occurrence. However, sources vary on how common the problem is among American drivers.
The NHTSA estimates that 91,000 crashes involved drowsy drivers in 2017, resulting in nearly 800 traffic fatalities and about 50,000 injuries.
However, the National Sleep Foundation estimates drowsy driving causes more than 6,400 fatalities each year in the United States. The NSF states that fall-asleep crashes are often the result of voluntarily not getting enough sleep. It is estimated that about 35 percent of drivers do not get the recommended amount of sleep per night (at least seven hours).
The CDC also reports that about 1 in 25 adult drivers report falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. One survey of 150,000 adults found that four percent of respondents stated they had fallen asleep at least once in the past month.
Why is Drowsy Driving Dangerous?
Nearly all respondents to a AAA Foundation survey (96 percent) said that drowsy driving was a serious threat to their safety. However, 29 percent of respondents admitted to driving when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open.
The respondents were correct: drowsy driving is extremely dangerous. Drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep more than quadruple their risk of a car accident. Briefly closing your eyes while driving is the same as texting while driving, and driving while drowsy is the equivalent of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content.
Being drowsy or fatigued can result in slower reaction times and trouble focusing. A person may have motor function impairments because of drowsiness.
Other effects of being drowsy while driving include poor concentration, blurred vision, rolling stops, driving too slowly or too fast, tailgating, and poor judgment when reacting to traffic or road conditions.
It only takes a second for a car accident to occur. A driver nods off and drifts into another lane of traffic, causing a head-on crash or rear-ends the car in front of them. The driver is so tired they blink for longer and longer periods until they run out of the road, causing a rollover accident.
Risk Factors for Drowsy Driving Accidents
Some individuals have a higher risk of falling asleep while driving. Factors that increase a driver’s risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident include:
- Working swing shifts
- Night shift workers
- Sleeping less than seven hours each night
- Taking medications that cause drowsiness
- Having sleep apnea or another sleep disorder
- Commercial truck drivers
Getting sufficient rest is one of the best ways to avoid a drowsy driving accident. Knowing the signs of drowsiness can also help. If you experience any of the following signs of drowsiness, it is time to get off the road:
- Frequent blinking or yawning
- Missing exits or turns
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
- Hitting the rumble strip or running onto the side of the road
- Drifting into another lane of traffic
- Suddenly nodding your head
If you nod off while driving, pull over to a safe location and call someone to come pick you up. Rolling down the window, playing loud music, turning on the air conditioner, and drinking caffeine will not wake you up enough to operate the vehicle safely.
Who is Responsible for Damages Caused by a Drowsy Driving Accident?
As with all other traffic accidents in Georgia, the driver who caused the collision is responsible for the damages caused by the crash. Therefore, if the drowsy driver’s actions led to the car wreck, the drowsy driver is liable for your damages.
Damages may include non-economic damages, such as permanent impairments, physical pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Economic damages include medical bills, cost of personal care, and loss of income.
The injuries caused by a car crash can be severe. Make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve by working with an experienced Atlanta fatigued driving accident attorney.
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