People have long known about the dangers associated with drinking and driving and more recently the risk that distracted drivers present on the roadway. What many people do not realize, however, is how dangerous drowsy driving can be. A fatigued motorist is potentially a deadly weapon when behind the wheel of a vehicle. To better explain, a Murfreesboro car accident attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses Tennessee’s drowsy driving accidents.
What Is Drowsy Driving?
We all know what it means to be “drowsy,” but what is drowsy driving? For human beings, sleep is a neurobiological need. Drowsiness, or sleepiness, occurs naturally during the sleep component of the circadian cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Drowsiness also occurs when sleep is restricted, interrupted, or fragmented or when chemical substances induce sleepiness. Drowsiness can contribute to a car accident by impairing reaction time, vigilance, attention, and information processing.
Drowsy Driving Facts and Figures
Because drowsy driving is not discussed as frequently as drinking and driving or distracted driving, people are often unaware of the risks posed by a fatigued driver. Consider the following facts and figures:
- Driving after more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the legal limit for driving under the influence, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
- Most drowsy-driving crashes happen between midnight and 6 a.m., or in the late-afternoon hours, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- 1 in 25 drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the past 30 days and many more admit to driving while sleep-deprived, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Data shows that you are three times more likely to be in a car accident if you are fatigued. (NSC)
- Fatigue-related crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities cost more than $100 billion annually, which does not include the cost of property damage. (NSC)
- Drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 crashes annually on the roadway, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA)
Ways to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Taking steps to ensure that you do not get behind the wheel when you are fatigued reduces the risk that you will cause a drowsy driving accident and maximizes your reaction time if another motorist is driving drowsy. Experts suggest the following tips to prevent driving drowsy:
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis.
- Before the start of a long car trip be sure to get an uninterrupted good night’s rest.
- Avoid consuming any alcohol because alcohol increases drowsiness.
- Check prescription and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness is a possible side effect.
- Avoid driving during times when you would normally sleep (usually midnight to 6:00 a.m.)
- Make frequent stops on a long road trip to get fresh air and break up the monotony of watching the road which can contribute to drowsiness.
- Take shifts driving, when possible, on road trips.
Am I Entitled to Compensation If I Was Injured in a Drowsy Driving Accident?
An injured car accident victim may be entitled to compensation from another party if that party’s negligence caused or contributed to the collision. Negligence is a legal term that requires an injured party to prove the following four elements:
- That the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim
- That the defendant breached the duty of care
- That the breach caused or contributed to the victim’s injuries
- Damages (Injuries)
It has long been established that a motorist operating a vehicle on a public roadway owes a duty of care to others with whom he/she shares the roadway. Driving while drowsy can be a breach of that duty of care. Therefore, if you were injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical injuries and emotional trauma.
Contact a Murfreesboro Car Accident Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about a drowsy driving car accident in Tennessee, contact a Murfreesboro car accident lawyer to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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