New Study Shows Sleepiness a Significant Factor in Auto Accident Fatalities


November 18, 2010

While few people are surprised that alcohol and distracted driving are common causes of fatal auto accidents, many people would be surprised to learn that drowsy drivers are involved in 5,500 fatal auto accidents each year. This means that almost 17% of all auto accident fatalities involve drivers who are drowsy. While sleepiness has long been recognized as a factor in some auto accident fatalities, prior estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presumed the rate of auto accident fatalities related to drowsy driving were in the 2-3% range.

The new study was conducted because many researchers believed that the impact of driver sleepiness on auto accident fatality rates was much higher than these prior estimates. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we know that factors like drowsy driving are completely preventable causes of fatal auto accidents. We have been representing drivers injured in fatal auto accidents throughout the Atlanta area, as well as all of Georgia, for over 25 years.

Many people believe that the prevalence of drowsy driving on accident rates has been largely underestimated because it is often hard to determine that it is a factor following an accident. However, 41% of drivers admit to falling asleep while driving with 10% admitting that they have done so at some time during the last 12 months. Few situations can be as dangerous as a driver who falls asleep behind the wheel of their vehicle. Driver fatigue has long been recognized as a leading cause of fatal trucking accidents, but now more efforts need to be made to encourage drivers of passenger vehicles not to drive when overly fatigued.

Fortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seems to have woken up to the problem of driver fatigue in the trucking industry. One of the biggest contributing factors in truck driver fatigue is the fact that many of these drivers are paid by the mile, and this is an incentive for them to work beyond the hours of service. Many times they are pressed to meet deadlines as well. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has used strict enforcement of hours of service regulations to reduce fatigue-related fatalities in the trucking industry. Unfortunately, there are no comparable laws or regulations that govern the conduct of ordinary drivers who are too tired or fatigued to drive.

If you are too tired to drive you can avoid putting your own life and the lives of other drivers and passengers in jeopardy by choosing not to drive. Some common signs that you should pull over and rest before continuing include the following:

  • Frequent blinking or inability to focus on the roadway
  • Consistent yawning
  • Concentration lapses so that you cannot recall last few miles traveled
  • Feeling your head droop
  • Drifting into the next lane or difficulty keeping a steady course in your lane

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should change drivers or pull over and rest before continuing further. The recent study shows a significant portion of drivers have had the harrowing experience of falling asleep behind the wheel of their car. Even the briefest period of time where a driver dozes off while traveling in excess of 55 mph on the freeway can lead to a fatal car crash. The decision not to drive when you are drowsy and fatigued can save the lives of you, your family and others with whom you share the roadway.

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been representing those seriously injured or killed in Georgia auto accidents for over 25 years. The Georgia auto accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, have been representing victims injured in auto accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

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