Drowsy driving can impair a person's alertness, reaction time, and decision-making skills.
Drowsy driving is a serious danger on our nation's roads and highways, leading to an estimated 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Unfortunately, many people underestimate how dangerous drowsy driving can be and don't take proper precautions to avoid it. This is especially true in Alabama, where a recent ValuePenguin study revealed the state has the 5th highest rate of car accidents involving drowsy drivers in the nation.
All drivers should be aware of the dangers associated with drowsy driving to stay safe on our roads. When they don't, and someone suffers a severe injury or dies as a result, they need to be held accountable for their negligence.
At Dean Waite & Associates, LLC, our attorneys understand how to get results for crash victims in Alabama. If you or someone you love was hit by a drowsy driver, we can investigate the accident, find the facts that matter to your case, and help you seek financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs. To see how an experienced Mobile, AL, car accident lawyer can help you, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Breaking down the drowsy driving study
For the drowsy driving study, ValuePenguin researchers examined data from the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 2016 to 2020. Overall, researchers discovered that:
- Drowsy driving in fatal crashes dropped 22.6% from 2016 to 2020 (from 2.1% to 1.6%), with the most significant year-over-year dip being 15.0%.
- Drowsy driving was most prevalent in Wyoming, with 9.3% of fatal crashes involving a drowsy driver in the 2016-2020 period, followed by Maine (5.9%) and Texas (4.6%).
- Daytime and weekday fatalities were more likely to involve drowsy drivers, while accidents around Christmastime saw higher levels of drowsy driving than on other holidays.
- Drivers ages 16 to 24 were most likely to be involved in fatal crashes involving a drowsy driver, at 1.9%, while the figures for drivers 25 to 54 and 55+ were 1.2%.
- About 60% of Americans admit to driving while drowsy, with fatigue, sleepiness, and disrupted sleep schedule being the primary causes.
According to the study, the states with the highest rate of crashes involving drowsy drivers were:
- Wyoming: 9.3%
- Maine: 5.9%
- Texas: 4.6%
- Colorado: 4.4%
- Alabama: 4.0%
- Idaho: 4.0%
Meanwhile, drowsy driving accidents are the least common in Florida, with only 0.6% of fatal accidents involving a drowsy driver, followed by the District of Columbia and North Carolina at 0.7%.
Drowsy driving was also found to be more common in fatal crashes from 2016 to 2020 during the day (2.3%) and on weekdays (2.0%).
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to avoid drowsy driving. Unfortunately, surveys conducted by the NSF revealed that 56% of adults don't get enough sleep before an average workday, compared to 62% on weekends.
Why do people drive drowsy?
Unfortunately, drowsy driving is common in the US, with about 6 of 10 Americans reporting to have done so. Looking at crash data reveals the following:
- About 65% of men say they've driven drowsy compared to 54% of women.
- Drowsy driving is most commonly due to general fatigue (57%) or sleepiness (56%).
- Other contributing factors are disrupted sleep schedules (39%), work schedules (37%), the time of day (36%), medications (12%), sleep disorders (12%), alcohol (8%), and other factors (3%).
- By age group, Gen Zers and Millennials cite sleepiness as the main reason for driving drowsy at 65%, while 55% of Baby Boomers cite fatigue.
- Men are also more likely than women to blame their work schedule for driving while fatigued.
Make no mistake about it: drowsy driving is a form of negligent driving that puts other road users at risk of severe injury or even death. As mentioned above, drowsy driving can lead to impaired decision-making, slower reaction time, decreased awareness, and reduced vigilance - all of which increase the likelihood of getting into an accident.
This means that people who are not adequately alert while behind the wheel pose a real threat to others around them.
Furthermore, drowsy driving has been proven to be just as dangerous as drinking and driving since it can cause many of the same symptoms, such as poor judgment, vision issues, and slowed reflexes. Therefore, ensuring you are well-rested before operating a motor vehicle is important to keep yourself and everyone else safe.
Tips to avoid drowsy driving
To prevent drowsy driving, getting plenty of sleep before any long drives is obviously important. However, there are other measures you can take to avoid causing a drowsy driving crash, such as:
- Avoid drinking alcohol and using medications that can cause drowsiness. If your medication comes with a "do not drive or operate heavy machinery" warning, pay attention to that warning.
- Take frequent driving breaks. On long trips, try to share driving duties with someone else if possible.
- If you feel tired or are having difficulty concentrating while driving, pull over somewhere safe and take a brief nap before continuing.
- Keep yourself alert by engaging in conversation with passengers or listening to music.
- Keep your eyes on the road at all times, no matter how tempting it may be to glance away.
- Drink coffee or an energy drink. The caffeine boost can help increase alertness and help prevent you from falling asleep at the wheel. But this only works for a short time — ultimately, you still need to sleep.
In short, you should never drive if you're too tired – it's not worth risking your safety or the safety of others.
Hit by a drowsy driver in Alabama? Don't Hesitate... Call Dean Waite!
If you or someone you care about was injured in a crash involving a drowsy driver, it's important to understand your potential legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses, but if it's up to the insurance company for the at-fault driver, you'll get as little compensation as possible—if anything at all.
Don't forget, the insurance company isn't a charitable organization. They're in business to make money, even if that means paying you less than you deserve. An experienced car accident lawyer can find the facts that matter to your case and aggressively advocate for the compensation you're entitled to under the law.
At Dean Waite & Associates, LLC, our attorneys know what evidence to look for to show the other driver was at fault. For example, evidence in a drowsy driving accident may include the driver's behavior before and after the accident, witness accounts of the driver's erratic driving before the crash, medical records showing sleep deprivation or fatigue-related illness, and dash cam or surveillance footage showing the driver nodding off or failing to take appropriate action before the collision.
The key is to act fast and call our law firm to review your legal rights and options. We can help you identify all liable parties, assist in filing an insurance claim, negotiate a settlement, and represent your best interests in court if necessary. To learn more, contact us today for a free case evaluation.