The Dangers Of Drowsy Driving (And How To Prove It Caused An Accident)

A lot of people worry about drunk drivers during the holiday season, but they should also be aware that there are people on the road who've been skipping sleep in order to get all of their shopping and holiday preparations done. A driver who is simply too sleepy to drive safely can easily cause an accident. Learn more about the dangers of drowsy driving, and what can be used in court to prove that it was the cause of an accident.

Drowsy Driving Accidents Are A Serious Problem.

Studies by the National Sleep Foundation show that 37% of people have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point. Falling asleep at the wheel is an obvious danger, but what happens when a driver who is barely awake keeps driving? It's estimated that driver fatigue is responsible for 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths per year. Drowsy drivers:

  • have slow reaction times
  • make poor decisions
  • have impaired or blurred vision
  • process information slowly
  • are prone to acts of aggression
  • compound the problem with other distractions (like talking on their cell phones in order to try to stay awake)

There are legal guidelines that establish how much alcohol is "too much" to consume and still get behind the wheel, but there's no clear way to quantify how little sleep is "too little." That makes it hard to keep drowsy drivers off the road.

How Can You Prove Another Driver Was Drowsy If You're In An Accident?

If you're injured in an auto accident and suspect that the other driver was drowsy, you can sue the other driver for negligence. In order to win, however, you will have to prove that the other driver wasn't being reasonably careful when he or she got behind the wheel while tired.

While proving that the other driver was drowsy might not be easy, a skilled attorney can look to several sources for evidence. For example:

  • What did the crash site show? Is there an absence of skid marks? That can indicate that the other driver might have been too asleep to apply his or her brakes. 
  • Eye-witnesses to the accident may be able to provide evidence that the driver was seen yawning prior to the accident, was weaving, or had drifted onto the rumble strip at the side of the road.
  • Did the driver admit to being tired? Did he or she blame fatigue on a late shift at work or long hours at school?
  • Is there evidence that the other driver suffers from a sleep disorder that can cause unusual fatigue? Is he or she being treated for insomnia, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy?
  • Does geographical information from the driver's cell phone or GPS indicate that he or she was travelling a long distance without adequate rest?
  • Was the other driving prescribed any medication that has a sedating side-effect?
  • Did the driver come from an after-work party or dinner where the alcohol was served? Even if the driver isn't drunk, alcohol can increase fatigue and sleepiness.

Awareness of the problems associated with drowsy driving is growing, but the problem still persists. You can prevent causing an accident due to drowsy driving by simply not driving when you are sleep-deprived or overly tired.

However, you can't totally insure yourself against other drivers, who might not do the same. If another driver is drowsy, and involves you in an accident, seek the assistance of an attorney early in order to best protect your legal right to recover for your injuries and losses. For more information, contact a company such as The Jaklitsch Law Group.