Driving while you are tired can be a recipe for disaster. Sadly, the fact is many Americans drive fatigued and drowsy every day, causing thousands of serious collisions. In fact, it’s estimated that upwards of 6,000 fatal car crashes are caused each year by drowsy driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
After a serious collision with a careless and fatigued driver, call the experienced North Carolina car accident lawyers at Strickland Agner Pittman. We are a dedicated team of professionals who work together to protect your rights and help you recover from your injuries. Schedule a free consultation about your case today.
People Most at Risk of Drowsy Driving
There are common scenarios that lead to drowsy driving, and certain groups tend to be at the greatest risk.
Younger drivers. Many younger drivers may feel overconfident and take on more than they are able to handle in a given day. Work and school schedules can be busy, and drivers may underestimate their exhaustion. Likewise, people may fail to take reasonable precautions, such as planning enough time for travel.
Shift workers. People who work nights or swing shifts are often at a higher risk of drowsy driving because their bodies are unable to keep pace with changing circadian rhythms.
Commercial drivers. Falling asleep at the wheel is consistently reported as a leading cause of truck accidents. National crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveals that as many as 13 percent of all crashes involving commercial vehicles happened when the driver was fatigued. In particular, commercial drivers are subject to strict hours of service rules, meaning that they are restricted to driving no more than 11 hours (working a total of 14), before being required to take at least 10 hours of rest. However, these rules can be quite complex in practice, and drivers often try to cheat the system in order to drive more hours and earn more money. This can be deadly when semi-truck drivers fall asleep behind the wheel.
What Are the Warning Signs of a Drowsy Driver?
If you’ve ever seen a car up ahead swerving back and forth, stopping abruptly, or unexpectedly slowing down, then you may have been witnessing a drowsy driver. Common symptoms of drowsy driving include:
- Lack of focus
- Loss of attention
- Head nodding
- Eyes feeling heavy (unable to keep eyes open)
- Forgetting brief spans of time
- Judgment impairment
- Constant yawning
- Veering in and out of your lane
If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately pull over and get rest. If rest is not possible, caffeine and other aides may be useful, but use caution. Caffeine and other legal stimulants only help you remain alert for brief amounts of time. Ultimately, there is no cure for exhaustion and fatigue other than sleep.
Common Causes of Driver Fatigue
There are no doubt many reasons for drivers falling asleep at the wheel, but in most situations, fatigue has to do with poor planning, overconfidence, and desperation. Common reasons for driver fatigue may include:
- Poor diet. A poor diet can affect your ability to sleep well, and it can lead to frequent feelings of sleeplessness and drowsiness.
- Medications. Prescription and over-the-counter medications may have a number of unexpected side effects, including drowsiness.
- Sleep disorders. Sleep apnea and narcolepsy may have a serious impact on a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle when left untreated.
- Poor physical health. Medical conditions ranging from respiratory problems to diabetes and heart conditions can all contribute to fatigue and a greater need for regular and high-quality sleep.
- Lack of physical fitness. The CDC reports that over 70 percent of Americans older than 20 are actually overweight. This includes mild to severe obesity. Being out of shape can create fatigue and a general lack of energy.
- Time of day (circadian rhythms). Most drowsy driving accidents occur in the early morning or late at night. This is because people have an internal circadian rhythm that tells them when to wake and when to sleep. When we try to push past those limits, fatigue becomes more likely.
- Other common causes of driver fatigue. Boredom and lack of mental stimulation can lead to falling asleep at the wheel. Likewise, long trips and extended time spent driving are strong contributing factors.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
- The CDC suggests that 1 out of 25 adult drivers in the U.S. admit that they’ve actually fallen asleep at the wheel over the past 30 days.
- TheNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are about 72,000 car accidents caused by driver fatigue each year.
- There were 44,000 injuries and 800 fatalities caused by drowsy driving in 2013 alone.
Contact a North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyer Today
After a serious car crash, you might be feeling confused and worried about all of the expenses that are piling up. Maybe you’re out of work or having to undergo painful and complicated surgeries. The physical recovery after an accident can be slow, inconvenient, and frustrating. After a crash, the best way to protect your rights and demand fair compensation is to put an experienced attorney on your side.
With offices in Goldsboro, Fayetteville, and Kinston, the experienced N.C. car accident attorneys of Strickland Agner Pittman are here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We will investigate your accident, research all possible sources of compensation, and work to uncover evidence to build your case. You can focus on getting better, while we tackle negotiations on your behalf.
If the insurance company won’t pay, our knowledgeable trial attorneys have the skills and years of experience to take your case to court. Consultations are absolutely free, and we collect nothing unless we are able to recover money for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.