In a recent report conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one in four motorists reported being so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open behind the wheel in the past month. In addition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.5% of fatal car accidents do involve drowsy driving.
Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but what many people do not realize is that drowsy driving can cause car accidents that are just as fatal. Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs your judgment, therefore allowing the risk of your involvement in a motor vehicle crash to increase.
How do you know if you are sleepy or drowsy behind the wheel? There many different symptoms or warning signs a driver can identify with that can tell them if they are sleep or drowsy to drive, including difficulty keeping your eyes open, feeling that your eyelids or head are very heavy, and the inability to recall the last few miles travelled.
Typically, any driver who does not get enough sleep can be at risk for drowsy driving. However, the most common specific at-risk groups include:
- Young individuals – particularly males under the age of 26.
- Night shift workers and people working long work hours.
- Commercial drivers.
- Drivers with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders.
The best way to prevent drowsy driving from occurring and therefore preventing a car accident is to always ensure you get the recommended amount of sleep each night (between seven to nine hours). Other tips our Michigan car accident attorneys highly recommend to help you stay awake behind the wheel include:
- If traveling for a long period of time or several miles, schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
- Avoid foods or medications that can cause drowsiness when you know you are going to be driving within eight hours of consuming or taking the product.
- Do not start your driving after eating a heavy meal.
- Take caffeine to help you stay awake, however it’s important that you do not rely solely on a caffeinated product to keep you from feeling drowsy or sleepy.
Due to the fact that drowsy driving is a common cause of fatal car accidents, several states are considering legislation that would allow police to charge drowsy drivers with criminal negligence if they injure or kill someone while driving if they have not had adequate sleep.
However, even though the State of Michigan does not have a law enforced, victims who do suffer injuries in a motor vehicle crash due to the negligence of another driver driving drowsy do have legal rights to pursue a personal injury claim against that driver. These claims would collect compensation for all pain and suffering damages caused in the accident.
Pain and suffering, also known as noneconomic damages, generally includes: (1) physical pain and suffering; (2) mental anguish; (3) fright and shock; (4) denial of social pleasure and enjoyments; and (5) embarrassment, humiliation or mortification. It can also include scarring from either a laceration caused during the accident or from a surgical scar.
This is not the only claim a victim may be able to make, as Michigan is also a no-fault state which means individuals injured in an auto accident may also be able to file a lawsuit against their insurance company for benefits, such as reimbursement of medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, or any other out of pocket money damages that resulted from the injuries caused in the crash.
For more information on your rights after injuries in a fatal car accident due to drowsy driving, contact our top rated Michigan car injury attorneys today at (800) 606-1717. We will explain your legal rights to you and determine whether or not you have a claim. Call now for your Free, No Obligation Case Review and find out how our top rated lawyers can help you!