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Drowsy Driving Accidents

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that involved a fatigued or drowsy driver, contact our Alabama drowsy driving lawyers today at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. at 205-933-1500.

Drowsy driving, which is defined as operating a motor vehicle while fatigued or sleepy, is a major problem that leads to thousands of car accidents every year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one out of every 25 adults aged 18 years or older surveyed reported that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past 30 days.

Drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous not only because of the potential for falling asleep behind the wheel, but because sleepiness can decrease a driver’s attentiveness, slow reaction time, and negatively impact decision-making. Despite the well-established risks of drowsy driving, there is an average of 28,000 drowsy-driving accidents annually.

Drowsy Driving Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), drowsy driving accidents resulted in 846 deaths in 2014 alone. It is estimated that drowsy driving is responsible for an annual average of 886 deaths and more than 37,000 injuries. However, that number is likely higher given that clues about the cause of a crash are not always readily apparent or conclusive.

Based on estimates from the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety drowsy driving contributes to as many as 1.2 million collisions, resulting in an annual average of 109,000 injury crashes and 6,400 fatal crashes. The typical characteristics of drowsy driving accidents include:

  • Most likely to occur between midnight and 6 am or in the late-afternoon
  • More likely to be serious or severe–one in five fatal crashes involves drowsy driving
  • Vehicle leaves the roadway–more than 50 percent of drowsy driving accident involves drivers veering out of their lanes or off the roadway
  • More likely to occur on high-speed rural roads or highways
  • Driver is alone in the vehicle

Common Causes of Drowsy Driving

Sleep experts recommend that healthy adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep every day. The CDC estimates that as many as 35 percent of adults sleep less than seven hours a day and at least 12 percent who sleep less than five hours per day.

Sleep insufficiency is not only linked with a broad range of health conditions, it also the leading cause of drowsy driving accidents. A recent study found that the chances of being involved in a crash increase dramatically for drivers who got less than seven hours of sleep in the past 24 hours and drivers who slept at least an hour less than they usually sleep.

According to the study, drivers who slept for less than four or five hours in the past 24 hours are likely to be substantially impaired and at least a four times higher crash rate. Furthermore, driving after only four to five hours of sleep is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08.

Aside from insufficient sleep, drowsy driving can also be caused by the following:

  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Untreated or unrecognized sleep disorder (e.g. sleep apnea, insomnia, or narcolepsy)
  • vSedating medications

Signs and Symptoms of Drowsy Driving

Some of the warning signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Yawning regularly
  • Blinking frequently
  • Hitting rumble strips
  • Crossing over roadway lines or drifting from your lane
  • Difficulty focusing, keeping your head up or eye open
  • Difficulty recalling the last few miles/minutes driven
  • Driving past your exit or missing traffic signals
  • Daydreaming
  • Feelings of restlessness or irritability

The groups of people that are more at-risk for drowsy driving are:

  • Drivers, especially males, ages 16 to 24 require more sleep on average and are nearly twice as likely to be drowsy at the time of an accident
  • Shift workers– usually work overnight and have long/irregular work schedules
  • Commercial drivers
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders–It is estimated that more than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder
  • Drivers who use sedating medications
  • Business travelers who often suffer from jet lag and lack of sleep

Contact an Experienced Alabama Car Accident Lawyer For Help

When a sleep-deprived driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, the consequences can be devastating. If you or a loved one have been injured in a drowsy driving accident, contact the Alabama car accident lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. for help.

Our Alabama car accident attorneys have more than 65 years of collective personal injury experience and we will fight for the compensation you deserve. With the help of one of our skilled car accident lawyers, you may be able to recover compensation for your:

  • Medical costs
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Property loss or damage

We pride ourselves on providing compassionate, professional, and knowledgeable representation to accident victims throughout Alabama and we advocate for the maximum compensation possible in every personal injury case.

Contact the Alabama personal injury law firm at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. today at 205-933-1500 to find out how our talented car accident lawyers can help. We offer a free consultation at no risk to you.