In 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike, a vehicle accident that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan and 3 of his friends – and killed 1 person – made national headlines. According to media reports
, the driver of the Wal-Mart truck who caused the accident had been awake for 28 hours.
The National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that fatigue on the part of the Wal-Mart truck driver was the chief cause of the accident.
Driving while fatigued is one of the most common causes of car accidents. According to one study, an astonishing 60% of U.S. drivers admit that at least on one occasion they have driven while they were sleepy and 37% admit that they have fallen asleep at the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that well over 100,000 vehicle collisions each year are the result of driver fatigue, with over 70,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths.
These are sobering statistics.
What is Drowsy Driving?
One way to describe drowsy driving is driving while your eyes are open but your brain is asleep.
When you are mentally tired, the time it takes for you to react can slow significantly. In addition you are less aware of what is going on in the environment around you. When this happens, it is easy for you to fail to notice and react to changes in traffic signals, the movements of other cars, bicycles and pedestrians, or to react to an unexpected event such as a child dashing out into the street.
In many ways driving while fatigued has the same affect on a driver’s cognitive abilities as driving while intoxicated.
The Risks of Driving While Fatigued
Obviously, causing a car accident is the greatest risk of drowsy driving. Your car can easily drift into another lane, resulting in a collision. When this happens on a highway when vehicles are traveling at high speeds, such a collision is likely to result in several injuries and even death.
Another result of fatigued driving is rear-ending other vehicle. Falling asleep while at a red light or while driving in slow moving traffic may cause little more than damage to the rear of a vehicle.
On the other hand, rear-ending another car while moving at a high speed may cause the car you hit to collide into a third vehicle, leading to a chain reaction of collisions and several injuries.
In still other cases cars driven by fatigued drivers can hit cement barriers, parked cars, telephone poles, buildings, and pedestrians resulting in significant property damage or worse – injury or loss of life.
When Drivers Are More Likely to Drive While Fatigued
Any driver can end up driving recklessly due to fatigue; however, there are specific scenarios in which a driver is more likely to cause an accident while drowsy driving. These situations include:
- Driving between midnight and 6am
- Being a driver who is less than 25 years old
- Driving alone
- Driving on a long, rural, dark or “boring” road
- Driving long distances without stopping for a break
- Driving after sleeping for less than 6 hours
In addition, if you are already tired and you then drink even a small amount of alcohol or take medication that causes drowsiness, the effects of the alcohol or medication will be more pronounced.
If you are behind the wheel and feel overly tired, pull off the road to a safe area and rest. Stop and get some coffee or another caffienated drink. Better yet, let someone else in the car who isn’t fatigued and is fine to drive take the wheel.
Drowsy Driving Accidents
The ramifications of drowsy driving aren’t worth the pain, expense, or legal issues that will surely result if you cause an accident and hurt yourself or other innocent victims. We should all do our best to be rested, alert, and alcohol free before we get behind the wheel – many lives depend on it.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident as a result of another person driving while fatigued, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation would include money to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses that you suffered.
Donaghue & Labrum is the team to help you through this unfortunate situation. We will review your case and determine the best approach to getting you compensation. A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit can be complicated, but Donaghue & Labrum are experienced attorneys who understand the complexities involved. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.