One in four drivers admit to driving while being so tired that they can hardly keep their eyes open. This is a a serious hazard on our roads because studies show that driving while extremely fatigued is comparable to drunk driving because it affects ones vision, thinking abilities, impairs motors skills and slows ones reaction time. AAA claims that drowsy driving is a factor in up to 11.6% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that 4.2% of all the surveyed drivers admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past 30 days. This number could even be higher because some people are not even aware when they fall asleep for a few seconds.
A recent auto accident involving Comedian Tracy Morgan highlights what can happen when a driver is driving drowsy. Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and another man was killed when a Wal-Mart truck driver crashed into Morgan’s vehicle. Morgan has filed a negligence lawsuit against Wal-Mart claiming that the truck driver, Kevin Roper was speeding and fell asleep at the wheel.
Drivers attempt all sorts of things to attempt to combat drowsiness including drinking coffee, opening windows, stretching, listening to loud music, stretching, and slapping themselves. However there are only two things that are effective to combat the effects of drowsy driving:
- Switching drivers
- Pulling off the road and napping
Symptoms of Drowsy Driving
We all know when we are tired but when you start yawning, spacing out, blinking, hitting rumble strips, drifting from your lane, it’s time to get off the road, take a nap and drink some coffee. Drivers should make sure they are well rested, that they seek treatment for sleep disorders like sleep apnea and avoid alcohol to combat drowsy driving.
Drowsy Driving Accidents — Serious Consequences
Drivers who cause an auto accident because they are driving drowsy face serious consequences. In the case of Tracy Morgan’s accident, the Wal-Mart drivers has been charged with “death by auto and assault by auto.” In Washington state, the equivalent would be Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault. Roper is accused with not sleeping for 24 hours before he drove.
Morgan’s filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart claiming under the doctrine “respondeat superior” which provides that an employer is responsible for the actions of an employee in the scope of their employment. Morgan’s lawsuit also claims that the collision-avoidance system in the Wal-Mart truck was not functioning properly at the time of the accident.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver who was driving under the influence or who was negligent, you are well-advised to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney. The Farber Law Group has more than 40 years representing car accident victims and their families.