Common Factors Involved in Sleep Deprived Auto Accidents


September 03, 2014

Motor vehicle accident rates spike during the summer months for a number of reasons, but one possible factor involves the number of drivers traveling for vacation.  Drivers might be motivated to push to reach a vacation destination despite fatigue from a significant number of hours behind the wheel.  Similarly, drivers on vacation might keep later hours, consume alcohol and neglect their need for sleep.  Because our experienced Fulton County car accident lawyers recognize that sleepy drivers are much more likely to be involved in a serious collision, we encourage Georgia motorists not to drive when they are sleep deprived.

Sleepy drivers cause approximately 100,000 auto accidents annually that result in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities according to the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA).  Crashes included in these statistics involve drivers who are driving alone during normal sleep hours (i.e. midnight to 6:00 am).  These statistics also are limited to crashes that involve sober drivers who depart the roadway and make no effort to slow their vehicle or evade the crash.  The actual toll inflicted by sleepy drivers is more extensive because this data does not include collisions that involve multiple vehicles, passengers, daytime driving, evasive maneuvers or alcohol.  When these other factors are involved, the task of determining a crash was caused by driver fatigue is more complicated.

The EMSA has identified a number of traits that are frequently involved in accidents caused by sleepy drivers:

  • Sleep Disorders: Many drivers have sleep disorders like narcolepsy or sleep apnea that are undiagnosed.  Even if a driver has not been formally diagnosed, many people afflicted with these conditions are aware they suffer from a sleep disorder.  When drivers ignore the obvious warning signs associated with suddenly falling asleep without warning or ignore a medical diagnosis, the driver might be liable for injuries caused to others in a collision.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol is a depressant that causes drowsiness.  When alcohol is combined with certain medications, the sleep inducing effects of the drug often are magnified.  Driving while impaired by alcohol is a negligent form of driving conduct that often merits punitive damages against the intoxicated driver.
  • Drug Impairment: Many people take over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs with the assumption that they can safely drive because the drugs are legal.  However, there are many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications that make it unsafe to drive because they make drivers sleepy.  Common medical conditions that might result in a prescription for a drug that induces drowsy driving include pain, depression, insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure and diabetes. OTC drugs that might render a driver too tired to operate a motor vehicle include decongestants, pain relief medications, antihistamines, cold medications, sleep aids and motion sickness drugs.  Motorists need to understand that it is never safe to drive when taking a prescription drug or OTC that carries a warning about operating heavy machinery.  Even when drivers take these medications as indicated with a lawful prescription, liability can still be imposed on a driver when his or her impaired reaction time, vision, concentration or fatigue causes an accident.
  • Driving Habits: Drivers who travel between the hours or midnight and 6 a.m. are more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash.  If motorists travel a high number of miles on a daily basis or annually, this also tends to correspond to a higher probability of being involved in a sleep deprived accident.  When drivers undertake long driving shifts without breaks, this driving pattern also is more likely to result in a collision.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Claim!

If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision involving a sleepy driver, you might be entitled to financial compensation.  Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, 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 www.montlick.com 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.