Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyer

drowsy driver risking an accident

Drivers who have not had adequate sleep are more likely to become drowsy behind the wheel and cause crashes. Fatigue affects a driver’s ability to recognize and react quickly to potential accident situations. Drowsy driving accidents can happen at any time, but they are more likely to occur at hours when an individual is normally sleeping.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a tired driver, you should talk to a knowledgeable Raleigh car accident attorney about your legal options. You may be entitled to seek compensation from the drowsy driver’s auto insurance.

A drowsy driving accident attorney at Younce, Vtipil & Baznik can help you understand the proper steps to take to recover full compensation for your medical bills and related expenses. We are experienced in handling car accident injury claims involving victims of drowsy driving. Call us at (919) 661-9000 to schedule a free consultation with a North Carolina car accident attorney.

What is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving affects a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Drowsy driving causes thousands of car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents each year.

Drowsiness affects the human brain. As a result, a lack of sleep will exhibit physical manifestations in the body. When a person is sleep-deprived, his or her ability to focus and respond to changes in traffic conditions are disrupted. Drowsy driving affects decision-making skills and slows reaction time, increasing the probability that the driver will be involved in an accident.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, tired drivers who are involved in an accident are twice as likely to make performance errors as drivers who are not sleep-deprived. In some cases, a drowsy driver will fall asleep at the wheel. The lack of skid marks or attempts to avoid a collision may indicate a driver who has fallen asleep.

Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving

Most people understand how dangerous it is to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, most people don’t think that drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. In fact, driving drowsy has similar physical indications as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Drowsy drivers are impaired by fatigue. Lack of sleep has effects similar to alcohol on the body. Both fatigue and alcohol make it harder to focus on the task of driving and negatively affect decision-making ability and reaction time.

According to the Sleep Foundation, an exhausted driver who has been awake for 18 hours has a level of impairment equivalent to a driver with .05 percent blood alcohol content, which is close to the legal limit of .08. In comparison, people who were awake for 24 hours, drove as if they had a blood-alcohol level of .10 percent.

Sometimes, drunk drivers will drive slowly to give themselves extra time to react, but drowsy drivers often don’t slow down when they are behind the wheel. A driver can fall asleep behind the when even if they are driving fast.

What Causes Drowsiness While Driving and Who Is Prone to It?

A driver who operates a motor vehicle without enough sleep puts everyone else on the road at risk. What causes drowsiness while driving? How can people avoid being fatigued behind the wheel? Drowsy driving accidents are most common between midnight and 6 a.m. —hours when most people are normally sleeping.

Among the motorists most likely to experience driving while sleep-deprived are:

  • Drivers who do not get enough sleep – People are constantly on the go and many do not get adequate sleep. People who don’t get enough rest may become drowsy while driving.
  • Shift workers – Workers such as nurses and emergency response personnel who work alternating day and night shifts are more likely to have disrupted sleep patterns. A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that a third of all night-shift workers were involved in near-crashes when driving at the end of their shift. The study also found that after working the night shift, drivers displayed declining driving performance, and that emergency braking was needed for more than one-third of the night-shift workers.
  • Commercial vehicle drivers – People who are employed as long-haul truck drivers are generally more susceptible to drowsy driving. Truck drivers typically spend many hours of the day behind the wheel. Because of the prevalence of drowsy driving accidents among commercial truck drivers, they are required to take rest breaks after a certain number of hours of driving. Unfortunately, these hours-of-service rules are often disregarded by truck drivers who are pushing to make delivery deadlines. Needless to say, tired drivers who operate large commercial vehicles are a danger to us all.
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders – Many people suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. These sleep disorders, when left untreated, are a major contributing factor to driving drowsy. Normal adults require at least seven hours of sleep each night. However, people with sleep disorders don’t sleep soundly. Indeed, a poor night’s sleep due to a sleep disorder contributes to tired driving.
  • Drivers who use medications that make them sleepy – There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that list drowsiness as a side effect. Some drugs that may cause drowsiness include allergy medication, antidepressants, opioids, codeine, and muscle relaxants. There are millions of people who use these types of medications every day, and yet still drive, despite their side effects.
  • Driving contributes to drowsy driving – Driving can sometimes be monotonous and tedious. Studies have shown that the act of driving can cause drowsiness and drowsy driving. Factors such as highway driving, driving long distances, driving for long periods of time, and driving at night all increase the chance that the driver will become drowsy.

Tips to Prevent Fatigued Driving

Drowsy drivers are a serious problem in North Carolina and in communities across the country, the statistics are alarming.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that more than 325,000 drowsy driving accidents occur each year, including more than 100,000 that cause injuries. The study suggested that current government statistics, derived from police accident reports, significantly underestimate the prevalence of crashes caused by fatigue.

woman asleep at the wheel in Raleigh, NCThe good news is that you can prevent drowsy driving. There are actions you can take to prevent drowsy and fatigued driving. For starters, it is crucial to realize that you cannot fight sleep. Your body needs sleep. Sooner or later your body will get the sleep it needs.

The symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Excessive yawning
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Blinking and rubbing eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating on the road
  • Daydreaming
  • Speeding without realizing it
  • Missing your exit on the highway
  • Drifting onto the shoulder or between lanes
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness / blurry vision
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Nodding off.

If you experience any of these symptoms while driving, you should stop as soon as possible at a safe location and get some rest. Even a nap as short as 30 minutes can help combat drowsy driving.

To avoid becoming fatigued while driving, you should get enough sleep before you get behind the wheel. Adults need seven hours of sleep a night. Teens need at least eight hours of sleep.

You should work to develop good sleeping habits. For example, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Make sure that you shut down all electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Finally, if you have a sleep disorder, you should speak to a sleep specialist about treatment options.

Do I Need A Drowsy Driving Attorney?

If you suspect that you were the victim of a drowsy driving accident, you should contact a North Carolina drowsy driving attorney at Younce, Vtipil & Baznik. It is often difficult at the accident scene to determine if drowsy or fatigued driving played a part in causing an accident. A collision may cause a driver who was nodding off to become alert again. Having an attorney on your side can help.

The attorneys at Younce, Vtipil & Baznik are experienced at investigating drowsy driving accident cases. If you suspect that a sleepy driver was responsible for your injuries in a car accident, the sooner you contact our law firm following a drowsy driving accident, the quicker we can start our investigation into whether your accident occurred because someone was driving while dangerously fatigued.

Our knowledge of North Carolina laws and our state-of-the-art case tracking system ensure that our attorneys will be able to bring your drowsy driving case to a successful resolution. Our attorneys handle car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. You will only pay an attorney’s fee if we obtain money for you through an insurance settlement or jury award.

At Younce, Vtipil & Baznik you will receive personal attention and informed legal guidance about your accident. Call us now at (919) 661-9000 for a free case evaluation.