Fatigued driving is an under-reported danger on the highways of Massachusetts and across the country. Think about it: a drowsy driver who causes an accident and is not badly injured will appear to be wide awake afterward, thanks to the adrenaline rush of being in a car crash. But, in fact, many drivers cause wrecks because they are too sleepy to operate their vehicles safely.
Sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing.
A recent study by the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety suggests a much greater prevalence of drowsy driving than statistics published by the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If a driver has chosen to remain behind the wheel though they are too tired to drive, and they cause an accident, they may be held accountable. A Boston car accident lawyer from Kelly & Soto Law can help you obtain justice if you have been harmed by a fatigued driver. Contact 1-800-LAW-GUYS today for a free initial consultation about your car accident claim.
The Prevalence and Pattern of Fatigued Driving Accidents
Among the AAA Foundation’s startling findings is the estimate that drowsy drivers are involved in 21 percent of fatal crashes, an increase from 16.5 percent estimated in the foundation’s 2010 study, and a far higher number than the NHTSA’s suggestion of one to three percent.
The AAA Foundation says that drowsy drivers contribute to an estimated:
- 328,000 crashes each year, including 109,000 injury crashes and 6,400 fatal crashes
- 13 percent of crashes in which a person was hospitalized
- 7 percent of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash
- 6 percent of all crashes in which a vehicle was damaged and towed from the scene
In addition, 37 percent of drivers surveyed by AAA reported they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives, and 11 percent said they had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the previous year.
Drowsy driving accidents are likely to result in fatalities or injury. This is because a driver who is nodding off has delayed reactions and does not brake or swerve to avoid a crash. Fatigued driving collisions occur at or near full speed.
More than half of drowsy driving crashes involve drivers drifting out of their lanes or off the road, according to AAA. This means head-on collisions caused by crossing the centerline, sideswipes, and side-impact collisions that occur when the driver runs off the road, awakens, overreacts and jerks his or her car back onto the road and into another vehicle or its path.
The Profile of a Fatigued/Drowsy Driver
The NHTSA said in a study of fatigued and drowsy driving that crashes related to sleepiness typically have the following characteristics:
- They occur during late night, early morning or midafternoon
- They occur on a high-speed road
- Drivers do not attempt to avoid a crash
- Drivers are alone in the vehicle
Drivers most likely to be fatigued or drowsy while driving include:
- Young people ages 16 to 29, especially males, and particularly those who are in school and working at the same time
- Shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by working at night or working long or irregular hours
- People who use sedating medications, which may be prescribed or over-the-counter drugs
- People whose driving patterns include driving between midnight and 6 a.m.; driving a substantial number of miles each year and/or a substantial number of hours each day (such as truck drivers and others who drive for business reasons); driving in the midafternoon hours (especially for older persons); and driving for long periods without taking a break
- People who consume alcohol, which adds to drowsiness
- People with untreated sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) or narcolepsy.
Legal Recourse after a Drowsy Driving Accident
An investigation into a fatigued driving accident may gather evidence such as:
- Witness statements as to the driver’s activities over a long period of time and/or his/her habits
- Lack of skid marks or short, straight skid marks at an accident scene, which indicate little or no braking or swerving
- Information from the “black box” event data recorder (EDR) in the driver’s car showing lack of braking
- Time- and date-stamped cell phone records, social media posts, or receipts or debit card records from purchases showing an extended period of activity
- Work or school attendance records
- A prescription for a medication that causes drowsiness
As attorneys from Kelly & Soto Law work to develop a personal injury claim in a suspected drowsy driving accident, we would pursue such evidence to support the claim. In many cases, these investigations require obtaining court orders to compel the defendant to turn over information. This makes it important to engage a lawyer quickly after a car accident. Otherwise, evidence may be destroyed or disappear before it can be secured to support your case.
A personal injury claim seeks compensation called damages to repay you for losses incurred in the accident. This includes seeking to recover damages for:
- Medical expenses, including projected costs of disabling injuries
- Property damage to your vehicle, whether it is repaired or replaced
- Lost wages because of time out of work to recover or loss of earning power due to disability
- Scarring and disability
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In a few cases, if a jury finds that you were harmed by the defendant’s intentional or malicious behavior, it can award punitive damages to punish the defendant.
As your attorneys, Kelly & Soto Law seeks to compile evidence that shows the at-fault driver was drowsy or fatigued and acted negligently. We develop a full accounting of your losses and the compensation required for you to recover financially.
Many personal injury cases are settled by negotiations. If we cannot obtain a settlement that is agreeable to you, we will be prepared to take your case to court.
Contact Our Boston Fatigued Driving Accident Attorneys
At Kelly & Soto Law, our lawyers assist Massachusetts residents who have been injured by others’ negligence and recklessness. If another driver has chosen to drive while impaired by fatigue, drowsiness or sleepiness, and caused an accident, we are here obtain justice for you.
Contact our firm in Boston for a free evaluation of your potential fatigued driving accident claim. Our guarantee is that if within the first 30 days, you are unhappy for any reason with our legal services, we will return your file free of charge. Call us today for professional and aggressive legal representation.
- Wake Up and Get Some Sleep: The Dangers of Drowsy Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Drowsy Drivers, United States, 2009-2013, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
- Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes, NCSDR/NHTSA Expert Panel on Driver Fatigue and Sleepiness, NHTSA
- DrowsyDriving.org: Facts, National Sleep Foundation