Driver Fatigue and Car Accidents

Driver Fatigue and Car Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that drowsy driving “is a serious problem” that leads to thousands of auto accidents each year.

While there are subjective and objective tools available to detect sleepiness, unlike alcohol-related accidents, there are no blood, breath, or other measurable tests available that can quantify sleep levels at a crash site. According to the NHTSA, drowsy driving crashes typically have the following characteristics:

  • The accident occurs midafternoon, late at night, or in the early morning.
  • The crash has a high likelihood of being serious.
  • The accident occurs on a road where vehicles travel at a high rate of speed.
  • The fatigued driver made no attempt to avoid the crash.
  • The fatigued driver was alone in their vehicle.

Risk Factors for Drowsy-Driving Accidents

The NHTSA recognizes that the following factors increase the risk of drowsy driving:

  • A lack of sleep.
  • Certain driving patterns (e.g. driving between midnight and 6 a.m., driving a lot of miles each year, or a lot of miles each day, and driving for longer periods without a break).
  • The use of sedating medications, especially antihistamines and tricyclic antidepressants.
  • An untreated or undiagnosed sleeping disorder such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
  • Consuming alcohol – enhances drowsiness.

The above factors all have cumulative effects, and any combination of the above substantially increases the risk of an accident. For example, being sleep deprived and driving while on sedating medications.

Who is at the highest risk?

While no driver is immune to the effects of sleep deprivation, the following groups are at the highest risk according to the NHTSA. The findings are based on evidence from crash reports as well as self-reports on driver performance and sleep behavior.

  • The 16 to 29 age group, especially males.
  • Shift workers, especially ones whose sleep is disrupted by working irregular or long hours.
  • Individuals suffering from untreated narcolepsy or sleep apnea.

Were you involved in an accident with a driver who fell asleep at the wheel? If so, don’t hesitate to contact a Plano personal injury attorney from The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC. We gladly serve clients throughout Plano, Dallas, and Ft. Worth and the surrounding areas!