The National Sleep Foundation reports that a significant percentage of drivers nationwide, including New York, frequently drive while they are drowsy. If you are one of them, it might be news to you that fatigue is a form of impairment. Although Drowsy Driving Prevention Week occurs from Nov. 1 to 8, it is a danger that requires awareness throughout the year.
Drowsy drivers put themselves and others at risk. Statistics reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that police-reported crashes involving drowsy driving total about 100,000 each year, causing approximately 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries. However, the actual numbers are likely much higher because it is not always possible to establish whether drivers were fatigued. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s estimates show numbers that are more than three times higher, underscoring underestimation of the real numbers of drowsy driving accidents.
Recognize the symptoms of fatigued driving
You can avoid drowsy driving if you recognize any of the following red flags:
- Difficulty keeping your eyes open and frequent yawning might be the first indication of fatigue.
- Drifting across the traffic lanes is common for drowsy drivers.
- You could struggle to maintain a safe speed.
- You might find your head dropping and brief moments of nodding off.
If you miss turns or road signs, you may also have problems recalling particular sections of the route you traveled.
Did you know?
Were you aware that driving while fatigued is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol? The following facts are also real for drowsy driving:
- The drowsier you are while driving, the slower would be your reactions.
- You will be less aware of hazards on the roadway.
- Fatigue will compromise your ability to focus and pay attention to your driving and the road ahead.
- The likelihood of being involved in a car accident is three times higher when you are drowsy.
If you have places to go and things to do, you might ignore the fact that you have gone without sleep for 20 hours or more. However, without realizing it, you could experience micro-sleep incidents, which are involuntary, short periods of attention loss. These typically last for about four or five seconds — long enough to cause a fatal accident.
Even if you never drive when you are drowsy
If you take note of these facts, you may be wise to the telltale signs of another driver who is having problems staying awake while driving. However, if you do become the victim of a crash caused by a fatigued driver, your medical expenses, lost wages and potential follow-up medical needs could adversely affect your financial stability. You could pursue a claim for monetary relief, but as noted, proving drowsy driving could be a challenge.
This is where the skills of an experienced New York personal injury attorney come in. A lawyer can launch an independent investigation to establish negligence and present the claim in the court on your behalf.