The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates over 80,000 accidents occur ear year because of drowsy driving, killing 846 people in 2014 alone.
What Exactly is Fault?
The person or entity legally at fault is the party determined to be negligent and therefore responsible for the damages resulting from the accident. Following an automobile accident, the party who is at fault typically must cover car repair expenses and pay for medical bills as well as lost earning capacity. This is determined on a case-by-case scenario.
Who is at Fault in a Drowsy Driving Accident?
Drowsy driving is an enormous problem in America. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one out of ever 25 adult drivers have reported falling asleep at least once behind the wheel in the past 30 days and that over the course of a single year, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes.
Many people believe drowsy driving is not against the law. The reality is an action does not have to be illegal to be characterized as negligent. Negligence is the failure to act with a reasonable degree of care and is the basis on which most personal injury and car accident claims are filed. Because fatigue impairs judgment and reaction time, operating a motor vehicle while fatigued can indeed be classified as negligent. If a victim can prove a car accident would not have occurred but for the actions of a drowsy driver, they can be held liable for damages the victim suffers.
Proving drowsiness at the time of an auto accident is a difficult task. It would likely require evidence of a driver’s whereabouts for 24 continuous hours prior to the accident. Even when there is circumstantial evidence demonstrating where a person was for a full day leading up to a car accident, it does not necessarily translate to evidence a person was not awake at the time of the accident.
What Drivers are at Risk to Become Fatigued while Behind the Wheel?
Any driver can suffer from fatigue while driving, especially on long road trips. Certain drivers, however, are more at-risk of falling asleep at the wheel than others, including the following:
- Drivers who travel long distances for their job
- Drivers who suffer from sleep disorders
- Driver who work long or irregular hours
- Drivers who do not have a regular sleep schedule
- Drivers on the road between midnight and 6am
- Drivers who take medication that cause drowsiness
- Drivers who recently consumed alcohol, even if only a small amount
What are Signs of Fatigue Drivers Should Look out for?
Recognizing the signs of fatigue is perhaps one of the greatest tools to prevent drowsy driving. The following signs can be associated with fatigue:
- Drifting across lanes
- Frequent blinking and yawning
- Driving onto the shoulder of the road
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Having difficult focusing eyes or remember driving the last few miles
After noticing any of these signs, a driver should pull over at a safe location for a brief nap. Drinking a cup of coffee can also help increase awareness and alertness although this may be a temporary fix.
The point is, car accidents that occur as a result of drowsy driving can be prevented. Indeed, a car accident caused by a drowsy driver should not happen. If fatigued, a driver should not even get behind the wheel.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.
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