Injuries in an accident caused by a drowsy driver are difficult to prove without the help of a car accident lawyer. So if you’re in a wreck, and you know it wasn’t your fault, what do you do? Let an auto injury lawyer investigate the possibility of drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and drowsydriving.org estimate that over 100,000 accidents a year result from driver fatigue.
Drowsy Driving Facts
The NHTSA reports that the following people have the greatest risk of car accidents caused by fatigue or sleep behavior:
- Male drivers age 17-23
- Shift workers who work at night or work long or irregular hours
- People who sleep less than 6 hours a night
- People with sleep disorders such as insomnia sleep apnea or narcolepsy
In Bakersfield and Kern County, many people fall into the categories above. People also need to be aware that some prescription or over-the-counter medications may cause drowsiness. And of course, alcohol increases drowsiness, even when within the legal limit.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Proves Drowsy Driving
There’s no ‘breathalyzer’ test for drowsy driving. People may also not be aware that they fell asleep at the wheel. So, when you call an auto injury attorney, what can they do? A car accident lawyer will look at several sources of information to build a case:
- Photos of the crash or information from the police report that note an absence of skid marks. In a wide awake crash, if the driving hits the brakes, there is an obvious tire mark on the road. However, if a person is too sleepy or asleep, there may not be signs of braking.
- Traffic cameras may show that a driver ran through an intersection without slowing down. Lack of attention is an indication of fatigue or drowsiness.
- Witness testimony from passengers or other drivers may detail swerving or lack of ability to stay in the driving lane.
- Records of the offending driver’s prescription medication(s).
- Workplace records that indicate a long or night shift.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Naturally, the best advice to prevent a drowsy driving crash is to get enough rest. That’s not always possible, so here are other options:
- Ask another driver to drive on a long trip, or trade off driving responsibilities.
- Don’t drink alcohol before driving.
- Be aware of the effect of medications on sleepiness. If you must take a medication that causes drowsiness, avoid driving at peak-tired times of day such as late afternoon or late at night/early morning.
- If you find yourself having trouble staying awake, pull over to a rest area and take a quick nap. Coffee may help a little bit, but the effects are not long-lasting.
As we enter the holiday season, life gets busier and busier. We may lose sleep by staying up later. Be aware of the effects of fatigue and don’t drive drowsy.