Most people have been behind the wheel while feeling fatigued. However, few truly know just how dangerous drowsy driving can be. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 100,000 accidents each year are due to drowsy driving.
Drowsy drivers could be held liable for injuries and any damages that resulted from the accident. Below, we further discuss how drowsiness affects one’s ability to drive, individuals more likely to drive fatigued and the best ways to help minimize the risk of a drowsy-driving accident.
If you were in an accident due to another’s negligence, Sigman Janssen’s vehicle crash lawyers in Green Bay are here to help. We offer an initial consultation where we review your claim and discuss your legal options free of charge. There is no obligation to hire our firm, but if you do, we charge zero upfront fees.
Call (920) 328-0700 to talk to a lawyer.
Warning Signs You May Be Too Tired to Drive
Drowsiness can make you less alert and affect coordination, judgment, decision-making and reaction time while driving. Lack of sleep can impair one’s ability to drive the same way as drunk driving.
Warning signs that you may be too tired to drive include, but are not limited to:
- Constantly yawning or blinking
- Struggling to keep eyes open
- Nodding off for a few seconds
- Drifting from a lane of traffic
- Trouble staying below the speed limit
- Trouble recalling last few miles driven
- Getting too close to nearby cars
- Missing road signs, turns or exits
- Swerving or veering off the road
A drowsy driver with a slower reaction time may rear-end the car in front because he or she could not suddenly brake or steer out of the way. A driver may cause himself or herself serious harm or damage nearby property if he or she falls asleep, veers off the road and hits a fixed object. Fatigued drivers can also cause multi-vehicle accidents, crashing into another car at full speed, even if they do not fall asleep at the wheel.
Who is More Likely to Drive While Fatigued?
Anyone who is tired, overworked or exhausted is at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. However, certain individuals are more likely to drive while fatigued and cause an accident. These include:
- Commercial truck drivers who spend long periods on the road
- Shift workers who work long and/or inconsistent hours, often overnight
- Drivers who simply do not get enough sleep on a regular basis
- Drivers with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders (i.e. sleep apnea)
- Drivers who take medications that make them drowsy or sleepy
Many fatigued drivers often rely on caffeine, such as coffee or soda, or listen to loud music to help keep them awake and alert on the road. A driver may even roll down his or her window to get some fresh air. However, some of these methods may also be quite distracting and contribute to an accident.
Liability for Damages in Drowsy-Driving Accidents
Every driver has a responsibility to remain alert on the road. If a driver falls asleep at the wheel and causes you harm in an accident, you could take legal action against him or her to recover damages.
Liability in these cases will generally depend on whether the accident victim (the plaintiff) can prove the other driver (the defendant) was negligent. However, it is not so easy to determine how drowsy a driver was when he or she caused the accident. Driver fatigue is dangerous, but many drivers still often take the risk of driving while tired.
This is where working with an experienced lawyer is advantageous. Your lawyer can conduct a detailed accident investigation, ask the right questions and obtain the necessary evidence to help build a strong case for you. More than one credible witness may have seen the other driver dozing off or drifting in-between lanes at the time of the accident.
A lack of skid marks at the accident scene may be an indication that the other driver failed to brake or steer before hitting your car. Additionally, the other driver’s medical records may show that he or she was taking certain medications that cause drowsiness when the accident occurred.
If you have a case, your lawyer may be able to pursue compensation on your behalf to help cover:
- Past, current and future medical bills
- Lost income and lost earning capacity
- Damage to your car and/or property
- Pain and suffering, mental and physical
- Out-of-pocket costs related to the accident
Ways to Stay Alert and Help Prevent an Accident
Drowsy driving is dangerous but entirely preventable. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation outlines several ways to stay alert on the road and prevent a drowsy-driving accident.
- Get enough sleep – Only drive when you are feeling well-rested. It is vital to listen to your body when you are tired. If you are yawning or your eyes are heavy, pull over to a safe area and rest.
- Take frequent breaks – If you are taking a long trip, do not drive for long periods. Be sure to take breaks every couple of hours or so. Even a short break may help you feel less tired.
- Share the driving – A friend or family member can help you drive when you are fatigued. By sharing the driving responsibilities, it can give you the time needed to rest and recharge.
- Do not take medications – Medications that cause drowsiness should not be taken before driving. It is important to be aware of a medication’s side effects and how your body may react.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol has a sedative effect that helps you relax and makes you drowsy. It can cause you to fall asleep at the wheel, putting yourself and others on the road in harm’s way.
Speak With a Trusted Lawyer at No Cost to You
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries and damages in an accident due to a drowsy driver, our lawyers are prepared to fight for your rights. Our firm has a proven track record of success, obtaining millions of dollars in compensation for our clients – including car accident victims – over the years.
The initial consultation that we offer comes at no cost or obligation to you. If we determine that you have a case, there are no upfront fees to utilize our services. We only get paid if we help you win.
Free Case Review 24/7. Ph: (920) 328-0700.