Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney in Montgomery, Alabama

cropped-drowsy-driving-1.jpgYour eyes droop, your head nods.  All of us know the signs of being tired.  But when you are tired do you hesitate to get behind the wheel? Probably not.

Most of us think we can power through the sleepiness.  Maybe have some coffee. After all, we’re not drunk, right? No, you’re not drunk but you are impaired! 

Going without sleep for 18 hours to one day can equal the impairment of drunk driving. It’s estimated that fatigue plays a role in between 16 to 60 percent of road accidents in the U.S.

Drowsy Driving will:

* Slow down your reaction time and thought processes
* Effect your vision and judgment
* Impair your abilities

Missing just one to two hours of sleep a night will double your risk of a crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Factors that contribute to drowsy driving include:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking medications, even prescription ones
  • Undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders
  • Driving long hours without rest
  • Driving overnight when you normally sleep

Drowsy Driving is Very Common

Unfortunately, drowsy driving is very common. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one-third of us sleep less than the recommended seven hours a night.  

Sometimes drivers can even fall asleep behind the wheel!

According to one AAA survey, two out of five drivers admit they have gone to sleep at the wheel.  One in ten say it’s happened within the last year.

Shift workers, commercial drivers, folks on various medications – all of those factors can result in drowsy driving.

And while any drowsy driver is a potential danger on the road, a tired truck driver presents the biggest danger. When a semi weighing 80,000 pounds begins to drift into your lane head-on, there is no chance for survival for the occupants of the passenger car.

That’s why it is estimated nearly 40% of fatalities involving a drowsy truck driver happen to the individual in the smaller vehicle.   

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving accidents are 4.5 times higher for truck drivers compared to other drivers.

Because truck drivers spend more time on the road, clock a higher number of miles, and are often under pressure to deliver goods on a tight schedule, sleep is essential for that job.

That’s one of the reasons hour-of-service rules were put into place that dictate just how much rest a truck driver needs before getting behind the wheel. We have found that sometimes the rules are violated and there may be a second set of books that show the actual number of hours the driver slept.   

Added to the danger is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report that shows about one-third of truck drivers are suffering from some form of sleep apnea, a breathing-related sleep disorder that can interrupt restful sleep.

Technically, any medical condition that interferes with sleep should disqualify the driver from operating a commercial truck, as you will not be as sharp behind the wheel if you are not sleeping well, but as of now, there is no test for sleep apnea that might disqualify a driver from operating a big-rig.   

Diagnosing sleep apnea might involve spending the night in a sleep center but more often it goes undiagnosed. The good news is that most cases of sleep apnea can be successfully treated.

Drowsy Driving Accidents

With drowsy driving comes inattention to the road and that can translate to accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates from its crash data that about one in six (16.5%) deadly crashes is the result of a driver who was drowsy.

NHTSA predicts approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsiness as a factor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there could be as many as 6,000 fatal crashes every year that are directly attributable to drowsy driving.

Among crashes with injuries, drowsy driving was a factor in one in eight crashes and one in fourteen crashes (without injuries) resulted from a driver who was drowsy, according to NHTSA.

Many drivers believe they can “power through” being tired even though it leaves them in an incapacitated state.

Avoid Drowsy Driving

Remember – If you snooze, everyone can lose.

So what do you do if you feel drowsy but need to hit the road?

  • Powering through is probably not the best remedy.  Pull over and find a safe place to rest.  On a long trip, stop every two hours and walk around enough to circulate your blood.
  • If you use the buddy system you can change drivers when it’s necessary 
  • Coffee will help increase alertness for a couple of hours
  • Schedule a break every two hours
  • Travel at times you are normally awake, sleep when you normally sleep
  • Stop driving when you become sleepy
  • Be aware that statistics show people may fall asleep on long, boring high-speed rural highways

Basically, being drowsy is the body’s way of saying you need rest – Not that you need to get behind the wheel! 

Please do not for the safety of all of us!

Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney

In Alabama you have just two years after your accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.  You may be eligible to recover property damage, pain and suffering, medical costs, and rehabilitation treatment costs.

The insurer for the other side will try to blame you for your own accident even when he is the at-fault party.

Another challenge we face in Alabama is that ours is one of six states that does not have a code for sleepiness to be included in a crash report.

You will also be challenged in recovering under our Alabama contributory negligence laws.  If you are even partially responsible for your car accident, you may be prevented from collecting compensation from the at-fault party.

That’s why it is particularly important to contact an experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney who has dealt with the other side and their tactics to try and minimize your case. Call Mr. Nix at 334-203-6669 so he can begin the conversation on your avenues for recovery.   

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