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How Common are Car Accidents Involving a Fatigued Driver?

Fatigued Driving

There is a myriad of reasons that cause a car accident.  Fatigued driving is always among the most common causes year in and year out.  Along with distracted driving or drunk driving, drowsy driving is just as hazardous; it endangers the lives of the driver, their passengers, and others on the road, and unfortunately it happens more often than drivers admit.

Driving while drowsy or fatigued is often likened to drinking and driving.  In both cases, the driver’s reaction time is reduced severely, and the ability to judge distances and speeds is inhibited.  In fact, studies have shown that driving for more than 20 hours straight is the same as driving with the legal limit of blood-alcohol content of .08 percent.  The consequences are then equally similar, as well as the frustrating fact that these causes of accidents are preventable.

Fatigued Driving Statistics

Even with modern technology, it is difficult to determine if an accident occurred because of drowsy driving unless the driver at fault admitted to it.  There may be evidence at an accident that the driver was drowsy, but none that is fully concrete.  Even so, incidences of fatigued driving accidents that have been reported by the police or hospitals are still dangerously high:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that almost 700 fatalities occurred in 2019 that were related to fatigued driving.
  • In 2017, the NHTSA estimated that 91,000 car accidents occurred from drowsy driving, as well as almost 800 deaths. Economically, the NHTSA also estimates that fatigued-driving accidents cost almost $109 billion per year in personal injury and deaths.
  • The National Safety Council reports that nearly 100,000 drowsy-driving-related accidents happen per year, leading to over 70,000 injuries and averaging around 1,500 deaths. These statistics are police-reported accidents only.
  • In a recent study, The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that over 325,000 accidents occur per year because of drowsy driving, whether it is reported or unreported. The study also concluded that there are over 100,000 injuries per year, as well as 6,400 deaths.

What Causes Fatigued Driving?

It may seem obvious, but fatigued driving naturally comes from the lack of sleep, and sleepless nights occur from many different reasons.  A driver may find it difficult to know they are overly tired before it is too late.  The body is telling itself it needs rest, so the mind begins to wander or lose focus, and the eyes get heavy, all within a moment’s notice.  Even if the driver is not technically asleep, fatigue will likely cause a lapse in judgment or a slowed reaction time for the driver.

Tips to Help Prevent Fatigued Driving

Experts recommend at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night to adequately rest the body and to reduce the risk of driving while fatigued.  It is also important to remember the following:

  • Before a lengthy trip, the driver or drivers should rest as much as possible and certainly get the recommended eight hours of sleep the night before.
  • Drivers should know the signs of drowsiness and pull over if necessary. Signs of fatigue include excessive yawning, slowed reaction times, drifting into other lanes, and loss of focus.
  • Most drivers who are found to be driving while fatigued are younger drivers; research has shown that younger people, especially teenagers, do not get enough sleep, which increases their risk of an accident. It is important for all teenage drivers to know the risks of drowsy driving and to be well rested before getting behind the wheel.
  • No alcohol should be consumed before driving, as alcohol intensifies fatigue as well as producing symptoms of being impaired.
  • It is best to always check any prescription or over-the-counter medication, as some cause drowsiness with use or as a side effect.
  • Caffeine may not be enough to wake a driver up, especially those who spend long hours on the road without rest. For those drivers, there is an issue of micro-sleeping in which the body loses consciousness for a few seconds.  Only an adequate amount of sleep can truly keep a driver awake.

Atlantic City Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Help Those Injured by Fatigued Drivers

Studies have shown that almost 40 percent of all drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once.  Shockingly, almost 20 percent of drivers admit to it over the past 12 months.  Regardless, falling asleep while driving is dangerous and reckless.  If you or a loved has been injured by a fatigued driver, contact the Atlantic City car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm immediately.  Our experienced lawyers will go through each detail of your case and get the compensation you rightfully deserve.  Call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation. With an office in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we assist accident victims in Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, Woodbury, and across South Jersey.