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Drowsy driving is a serious and underreported problem

On Behalf of | May 5, 2021 | Personal Injury

Most North Dakota motorists know that drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous, but studies suggest that most of them regularly ignore these risks. When researchers from the American Automobile Association polled drivers about the issue, almost one in three of them said that they had remained behind the wheel despite being dangerously fatigued at least once. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a drowsy driving survey some years ago, 37% of the motorists polled admitted to actually falling asleep while driving.

An underreported problem

According to the NHTSA, only about 2.4% of fatal accidents involve a drowsy driver, but many road safety experts believe the problem is underreported and the true figure is far higher. This is because motorists at crash scenes rarely admit that they fell asleep at the wheel, and the behavior leaves no telltale clues behind for investigators. Drowsiness is usually considered a factor when motorists do not apply their brakes before crashing, but this can be caused by distraction as well as fatigue.

As dangerous as drunk driving

Driving after less than seven or eight hours of rest is dangerous, and losing just a few hours of sleep quadruples the chances of getting involved in an accident. Going without rest for 24 hours impairs drivers as much as a blood alcohol concentration of .08. Drowsy driving accidents often result in serious injuries or fatalities because more than half of them involve motorists who either leave the roadway at significant speeds or drift into the path of oncoming traffic. Road users injured in this kind of accident could seek compensation by filing personal injury lawsuits. If the drowsy driver who caused the accident is killed, litigation could be initiated against their insurance company.

Medications that cause drowsiness

Fatigued driving accidents often involve motorists who take prescription or over-the-counter medications that cause drowsiness. When an experienced personal injury attorney suspects that their client may have been injured by a driver under the influence of drugs, they could ask them questions about the medications they were using at the time during a deposition. If the answer to these questions reveal that the defendant had taken antihistamines, antidepressants or opioids before the accident, attorneys could use this information to encourage them to settle the lawsuit at the negotiating table.