“According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! In fact, of those who nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month. Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.”
Those are scary statistics, and they are growing with every year. Because people have such active lives, they rarely get the amount of sleep they actually need. This leaves them fatigued and nodding off when they need to be the most alert possible.
Often, asleep at the wheel accidents are overlooked though, simply because there is no test or way to tell that this is what happened when the police investigate. There is no Breathalyzer for sleepiness.
Whether you may not have considered the possibility that other drivers on the road may fall asleep at the wheel at the worst possible time, consider a few more statistics.
- According to studies in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Finland, up to 30% of all crashes are caused by drowsiness at the wheel.
- The National Highway Traffic Administration believes that around 100,000 accidents reported by the police are caused by driver fatigue.
- The estimates also include 1,500 deaths, more than 70,000 injuries, and more than $12 billion in monetary loss.
The truth is, police aren’t exactly trained in detecting driver fatigue and reporting these cases. Additionally, some states don’t have particular accident codes that cover fatigue at the wheel either. As a result, the accidents aren’t always properly reported or handled.
The Problem of Drowsy Driving
Driving a car requires quick reflexes and the ability to react to situations in a split second. However, when a person is sleepy, they will not be able to react in this manner. They will also be extremely impaired when it comes to following traffic rules. Additionally, according to surveys, people who did report driving when sleepy also indicated they were more likely to drive too fast or become impatient with surrounding traffic.
In other words, the people just do not drive as well and do not have the ability to react properly when they are drowsy or fatigued. Unfortunately, this leads to accidents that can be harmful or even fatal.
Most people associate asleep at the wheel accidents with night time driving, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, peak accident times for drowsy driving include midnight to 6:00 am and then 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Early afternoon is an ideal time for asleep at the wheel accidents because people are drowsy after a long day of work. Long, straight highways are the most common places for people to doze off as well.
If you or a loved one has become the victim of an auto accident where the driver was asleep at the wheel, then you are entitled to compensation for injury and monetary damages. Additionally, because the other driver was specifically at fault, you may be entitled to other compensation for punitive damages. You need to hire an attorney. However, you don’t need to hire just anyone. You need a professional with experience and the ability to go after those at fault for your accident and injuries.
If you believe you need a Personal Injury Lawyer, then contact the attorneys at Thompson | Wedeking for a free case evaluation. We would be glad to speak with you.