You might read a headline once in a while about a Miami car accident caused by a motorist falling asleep at the wheel, but you would probably never expect to be personally involved in a drowsy driving crash. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that fatigue is common among drivers and it can be a key factor in serious accidents. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates that there are around 328,000 drowsy driving collisions every year in the US; approximately 6,400 of these incidents were deadly and another 109,000 caused injuries to at least one person. However, GHSA notes that there is some margin of error on fatigued driving crashes figures due to reporting issues.
If you or a loved one was involved in a drowsy driving collision, it is important to consult with a Miami car accidents attorney right away about your legal options. Plus, some information on the dangers may help you avoid becoming a victim.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Lack of sleep adversely affects a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle in a number of ways, including slowed reaction time, impaired decision-making, and lapses in attention. In fact, GHSA points out that driving while fatigued is similar in some ways to drunk driving. For instance:
- Going without sleep for 24 hours is the equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10%;
- Driving after not sleeping for 21 hours is approximately the same as operating a car while at Florida’s legal drunk driving limit of .08%; and,
- Driving after staying awake for 18 hours puts a motorist at a BAC of .05%.
Why Motorists Fall Asleep at the Wheel
It is easy to say that lack of sleep is the primary cause of fatigued driving crashes, since more than one-third of Americans do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per day. However, drowsy driving can be a product of many other underlying factors, one of the most common of which is alcohol consumption. In addition, a motorist may also fall asleep or nod off behind the wheel due to:
- Road Trips and Long Drives: The monotony of the road, especially in rural conditions, can lead a diversion of the driver’s attention. Stretches of highway can put a motorist into a daze or trance, leading to dozing off.
- Medical Conditions: Even when a person gets sufficient sleep, some drivers suffer from undiagnosed sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
- Stress: Anxiety sometimes does not go away at night, so it can disrupt normal sleep patterns – especially REM sleep that provides the brain with effective rest time. It can then affect a person during waking hours.
Our Miami Auto Accidents Lawyers can Explain Your Rights
Getting hurt in any type of motor vehicle crash can be devastating, so you may be relieved to know that there are legal remedies for victims. You may be able to recover compensation for your losses, and our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA can assist with the process. For more information, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to schedule a free case evaluation.