According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of drivers have driven while drowsy and 37% have fallen asleep at the wheel within the last year. In Kentucky during 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 1,230 drivers who fell asleep were involved in accidents and 681 drivers who were fatigued were involved in accidents, according to the Kentucky State Police.
And these numbers may be underreported. It is difficult to determine when a driver is drowsy. There is no test. Unless the driver admits to fatigue, it takes an extensive investigation to uncover the truth. Yet the consequences of tired drivers can be tragic, it is important to know what the danger is, how it can be prevented, and what to do if you are hurt or a loved one is killed in a crash with a tired driver.
Why Drowsy Driving Is Dangerous
Drowsy drivers are more likely to cause accidents and the accidents are more likely to cause serious and fatal injuries. These added dangers stem from the fact that the driver who causes a drowsy driving car accident doesn’t react the way a normal driver would in the accident. If the driver is impaired or even asleep, the driver may not slam on the brakes to slow down or may not try to swerve out of the way. This means a car may hit with more force or a head-on collision may occur.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Accidents
Every driver needs to do his part to avoid these types of crashes. You may be able to avoid a drowsy driving wreck by:
- Getting a good night’s sleep.
- Stopping to rest, take a nap, or have someone else drive if you are sleepy.
- Taking a driving break every two hours—or sooner if you find yourself becoming drowsy.
- Traveling when you are at your most alert and awake.
- Driving with a passenger you can talk to.
- Avoiding medication that has the side effect of drowsiness.
By taking these steps, you may prevent a drowsy driving accident, but you can’t always count on all other drivers to do the same. Accordingly, you need to know what to do if you are hurt in a drowsy driving wreck.
Protect Your Rights If You’re Hurt by a Tired Driver
If you have been hurt in a crash with a driver who may be drowsy, then it is important to…
- Gather as much information as possible at the scene of the car accident. This means contacting law enforcement to get an accident report, taking pictures of the accident scene, and getting the names of witnesses.
- Get medical help right away. You need to get checked out by a doctor both to protect your health and to protect your auto accident claim.
- Get help from a car accident attorney. You may need expert witnesses and accident reconstruction experts to help prove your claim and an attorney has access to these types of professionals.
In many cases, the other driver will deny that he was too tired and it will be up to you to show that he was and that no reasonable person would have driven in his position.
In order to prove this, you can use evidence, including:
- Statements from witnesses to the accident. They may testify they saw the driver nodding off, or that the driver did not break or swerve to try to get out of the way in the moments leading up to the accident.
- Statements from law enforcement. They may have been able to deduce that drowsiness or a sleeping driver was the cause of the accident.
- Expert testimony from an accident reconstruction expert. This expert can testify to the fact that there were no swerve or skid marks, and that other physical evidence from the accident scene indicates that the driver was asleep or drowsy at the time of the accident.
A personal injury attorney can help you to collect this and other evidence showing that the driver was negligent and responsible for the accident. The personal injury attorneys at Gray & White have represented many victims of negligent driving accidents and can put their legal experience to work in your case. Contact us anytime—24/7—at 888-450-4456 to schedule a free consultation and to talk about your fair and just recovery.