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Sleep Deprived Teen Drivers Pose Especially Serious Car Accident Risk

January 03, 2013

Our Georgia accident lawyers have noticed that an increasing number of motor vehicle accidents are caused by sleep deprived drivers. This is because many Americans are working longer hours and multiple jobs to make ends meet. The skill and alertness necessary to safely operate a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle or semi-truck can be severely compromised when a driver is struggling with fatigue.

While any drowsy driver may make a driving error or fall asleep, teenagers pose a particularly high risk of causing a sleep deprived car accident.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has recently focused its efforts on discouraging teen drivers from operating a vehicle when they are too sleepy. This new emphasis is based on data that reveals teens are disproportionately involved in collisions based on lack of sleep. One in every seven motorists between the ages of 16 and 24 indicate that they have dozed off behind the wheel during the past 12 months. Ten percent of motorists in this age range admit to falling asleep while operating a motor vehicle. Teenage drivers also are eighty percent more likely to be involved in a sleep deprived car accident than those between the ages of 40 and 59.

While many perceive drowsy driving as a legitimate safety issue, they do not view this unsafe practice with the same negative attitudes as drunk driving. This more permissive attitude toward driving while drowsy is the reason that 33 percent of all drivers admit to operating a motor vehicle without adequate sleep despite recognizing the potential danger.

Because teen drivers have less experience reacting to road emergencies, any factor that increases the risk of teen accidents is especially hazardous. Studies reveal that teen drivers take longer to identify and react to vehicles that are not moving, road obstructions and other potential road hazards. Because lack of sleep can accentuate these driving weaknesses, teenagers that are overly tired when navigating Atlanta roads endanger vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

When a motorist attempts to drive while struggling with a lack of sleep, his or her driving ability may be adversely impacted in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Diminished hazard perception
  • Sluggish reflexes
  • Dozing off
  • Slowed reaction time

If you are involved in a collision with a drowsy driver, the case may be more difficult to prove than when the at-fault driver is intoxicated, speeding, texting or talking on a cell phone. All of these forms of unsafe driving typically generate verifiable evidence. When a driver is committing DUI, field sobriety tests and chemical blood alcohol tests will provide evidence of alcohol impaired driving. Mobile phone use can be corroborated by records from a driver’s cellular provider. Speeding can also be substantiated in many cases by skid marks or vehicle damage.

Tired drivers may violate traffic safety laws or engage in other errors that establish fault. When both drivers dispute the cause of the collision, this can pose evidence challenges because drowsy driving is less likely to provide objective evidence.

If you or a loved one is injured by a sleep deprived driver, our Georgia accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.