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What To Do After a Drowsy Driving Car Accident in Alabama

An attorney can help you build a strong case after a crash with a fatigued driver

Fatigued driving is a serious and often overlooked issue that poses significant risks to road safety in Alabama. Impaired drivers often lack the ability to react quickly, make sound decisions, and maintain focus. Fatigued driving doesn't just endanger the driver; it puts passengers, pedestrians, and other road users at risk.

Statistics reveal the alarming impact of fatigued driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving results in hundreds of traffic fatalities each year. If you or a loved one was injured in a drowsy driving crash, it’s important to know your rights and course of action during the aftermath. A skilled car accident lawyer can help you pursue a successful claim and advocate the compensation you’re entitled to under Alabama law.

How does fatigue affect people's driving ability?

Fatigue significantly impairs driving ability in various ways. It can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that being awake for 17-24 hours can impair driving ability, equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05% to 0.10%.

Here are some ways fatigue affects driving ability:

  • Reduced attention and focus: Fatigue lowers a driver's ability to maintain focus on the road and respond to sudden changes in the driving environment.
  • Slower reaction times: Tired drivers take longer to react to traffic signals, pedestrians, other vehicles, and unexpected obstacles.
  • Impaired decision-making: Fatigue negatively affects judgment and decision-making skills, which leads to poor choices, such as misjudging gaps in traffic or the speed of other vehicles.
  • Decreased coordination: Decreased physical coordination caused by fatigue makes it harder to steer, brake, and accelerate smoothly.
  • Microsleeps: These are brief, involuntary episodes of sleep that can last a few seconds, during which the driver loses control of their vehicle.
  • Eye strain and blurred vision: Fatigue can cause eye strain and blurred or double vision, which makes it difficult to see road signs, other vehicles, and pedestrians.
  • Increased risk-taking: Fatigued drivers may engage in risky behaviors, such as speeding or not wearing seat belts, due to impaired judgment.
  • Poor lane keeping: Drowsy drivers are more likely to drift out of their lanes, either gradually or suddenly, which increases the risk of side-swipe and head-on collisions.

What is the main cause of fatigue while driving?

The leading causes of fatigued driving include:

  • Insufficient rest: Not getting enough sleep is the most significant contributor to driver fatigue. Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Conditions such as sleep apnea or insomnia can prevent restful sleep and lead to chronic fatigue. Additionally, parents of young children are often at risk of losing sleep.
  • Time of day: The body’s internal clock influences periods of sleepiness and alertness. Drivers are more likely to feel fatigued late at night and early morning hours (1 a.m. to 6 a.m.) and mid-afternoon (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Long periods of driving: Driving for long periods without taking breaks can lead to fatigue. Continuous driving requires sustained concentration and physical effort, which can be exhausting. Also, long stretches of monotonous driving, such as on highways with little traffic or few changes in scenery, can make drivers feel sleepy.
  • Medications and substances: Some prescription and over-the-counter medications have side effects that can induce drowsiness. Even small amounts of alcohol or recreational drugs can induce sleepiness.
  • Shift work: Shift workers often struggle with fatigue due to irregular sleep patterns and disruption of natural circadian rhythms. This is common among people who work night shifts or rotating schedules.

What are the warning signs of fatigue while driving?

Driver fatigue doesn’t always come on quickly. In many cases, it presents warning signs that indicate it’s time to get off the road. Here are some common indicators that a driver may be too tired to drive safely:

  • Frequent yawning or blinking
  • Difficulty keeping eyes open
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Missing road signs or exits
  • Drifting from the lane
  • Inconsistent speed
  • Head nodding
  • Restlessness and irritability

What is the best way to prevent fatigue while driving?

The most effective ways to prevent drowsy driving and fatigue include:

  • Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Getting medical treatment for any sleep disorders.
  • On long trips, taking a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
  • If possible, sharing the driving duties with another licensed driver.
  • Planning trips to avoid driving late at night, early in the morning, or during mid-afternoon.
  • Staying hydrated and eating healthy.
  • Steering clear of alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness.
  • Using caffeine wisely and not relying on it for long-term alertness.
  • Getting off the road and resting if you start feeling tired while driving.

Proving fault in a drowsy driving accident claim

Proving a drowsy driving claim requires thorough and precise evidence. An experienced attorney can use various types of evidence to establish that the at-fault driver was fatigued at the time of the accident. Key pieces of evidence may include:

Crash scene documentation

Photos and videos of the accident scene can reveal vehicle positions, damage, road conditions, and any visible signs of driver fatigue, such as open food wrappers and coffee cups.

Witness statements

Witness contact information may be gathered to obtain statements about the driver’s behavior before the crash. Witnesses may have observed signs of drowsiness, such as drifting between lanes or erratic driving.

Police accident report

The official police accident report often includes the officer’s observations and any statements made by the drowsy driver, which can be crucial for supporting the claim.

At-fault driver's records

An attorney may access the at-fault driver’s work and driving records. Evidence of long working hours, recent shift changes, or a history of traffic violations can indicate fatigue.

Expert testimony

Expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists or sleep experts, can provide professional insights into how drowsiness likely contributed to the crash.

Medical records

If the at-fault driver has a known medical condition that causes fatigue, such as sleep apnea, an attorney can legally obtain these records to demonstrate a higher risk of drowsy driving.

Technology data

Data from the vehicle’s event data recorder (EDR), which records information about the car’s speed, braking, and steering before the crash, can show whether the driver failed to react appropriately, suggesting drowsiness.

Circumstantial evidence

An attorney can compile circumstantial evidence, such as the time of day, the duration of the driver’s trip, and lack of recent rest breaks, to build a timeline that indicates the driver was likely fatigued.

Let a car accident lawyer fight for the justice and compensation you deserve

If you or a loved one has been hurt in an Alabama car accident caused by a drowsy driver, seek experienced legal representation to secure the compensation you need and deserve. At Dean Waite & Associates, LLC, our dedicated car accident attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights of crash victims throughout Alabama.

We understand the challenges of proving that a driver was fatigued or asleep at the wheel, especially when the driver denies it or when the police report lacks key details. Our legal team conducts thorough investigations, gathers compelling evidence, and consults with crash reconstruction experts to build a strong case.

We also ensure that the insurance companies recognize the full extent of your damages and are prepared to fight for you in court if necessary. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and learn how we can help you.

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