Everyone is susceptible to fatigue, whether they have worked a long shift or not gotten enough sleep the night before. Whenever someone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are dangerously tired, it is referred to as “drowsy driving.”
The fact is a significant number of people attempt to drive even when their bodies are telling them they should be resting. People who are exhausted are not suited to be operating a motor vehicle, and a person can cause a devastating crash if they start drifting off or fall asleep while driving.
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Oklahoma caused by a drowsy driver, the negligent party needs to be held accountable. Instead of fighting with an insurance company, allow an experienced Oklahoma personal injury attorney handle your case for you.
Cain Law Office has been fighting for the rights of auto accident victims throughout the Oklahoma City area for more than 20 years. Call (855) 759-6858 or contact us online to receive a free consultation about your case.
What Causes Drowsy Driving?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can have effects on your body similar to the effects of alcohol consumption. In fact, being awake for 18 consecutive hours is the equivalent of a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05, while being awake for a full 24 hours is like a BAC of 0.10. (In Oklahoma, you are considered impaired when your BAC is 0.08.)
The most common cause of drowsy driving is a simple lack of sleep. In some cases, people can become fatigued after working particularly long hours. Stresses of work, family, and everyday life can keep many people up at night and disrupt their sleep.
Prescription sleep aids may also contribute to drowsy driving. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 1 in 5 Americans who take sleep drugs said they had driven within 7 hours after taking the medication, even though the directions on most sleep aids advise that you not take them unless you can sleep for more than 7 hours afterward to reduce the likelihood of grogginess.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving Accidents
There are several steps you can take to prevent an accident caused by fatigue or drowsy driving:
Always try to get a good night’s sleep. Experts recommend between seven and nine hours. If you are planning a long drive with multiple people, take turns driving. Have someone take over driving after a certain number of hours.
Do not be afraid to take naps at rest areas when necessary. The hours you would normally be sleeping are obviously the most dangerous times to drive, but you can consume caffeine for a short-term boost.
Recognize any signs of drowsy driving that you may be exhibiting. Yawning, missing turns, or drifting from a lane can all be signs that you are getting tired.
Drowsy Driving Facts and Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 25 drivers who are 18 years of age or older reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is the primary cause of 100,000 crashes causing 1,500 deaths and 70,000 injuries in the United States annually.
Drowsy driving killed 795 people in 2017, according to the NHTSA. Drowsy driving accounted for:
- 736 crashes (2.3% of total crashes) and 824 fatalities (2.3% of total fatalities) in 2015
- 747 crashes (2.5%) and 851 fatalities (2.6%) in 2014
- 714 crashes (2.4%) and 801 fatalities (2.4%) in 2013
- 744 crashes (2.4%) and 835 fatalities (2.5%) in 2012
- 721 crashes (2.4%) and 810 fatalities (2.5%) in 2011
A 2016 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, reported that almost 83.6 million sleep-deprived Americans are driving every day. The GHSA states that the annual societal cost of fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes was $109 billion, not including property damage.
Drowsy Driving and Sleep Apnea
There are three kinds of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common kind, which involves blockage of a person’s airway
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when the brain does not send the right signals to muscles that regulate breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, when a person has both OSA and central sleep apnea
While sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, including children, it most commonly affects people who are male, overweight, or over 40 years of age. Because many commercial truck drivers fall under all three of those categories, they are likely candidates to suffer from both sleep apnea and drowsy driving.
Because daytime sleepiness is a common symptom of sleep apnea, people with apnea may be more likely to have drowsy driving issues during the day. Treatment can help with these episodes.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hit by a Drowsy Driver
- Make sure that your first step after any car accident is getting medical attention. You should always go to a hospital after a crash. Do not put off seeing a doctor.
- Contact the local law enforcement agency and file a police report. Find out how you can obtain a copy of the report.
- If it is possible at the scene of the crash, take pictures of everything involved. Get photographs from many different angles and distances, but also look for any people who saw your accident and get their contact information.
- Do not discuss your crash on social media or with anyone other than a lawyer. Contact an attorney before speaking to any insurance company.
Talk to a Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney Now
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a car crash caused by a drowsy driver in the greater Oklahoma City area? If so, contact Cain Law Office to discuss your case and your legal options. You have a right to seek fair compensation if you were hurt due to a drowsy driver, and we can help you demand the payment you need to move forward after a serious crash.
Our law firm will not charge you anything unless we recover a financial award for you. You can have our drowsy driver accident lawyers discuss all of your legal options during a free consultation when you call (855) 759-6858 or contact us online right now.