Drowsy Driving Plays Bigger Role in Crashes Than Federal Statistics Show

A new report from AAA suggests that drowsy or fatigued driving plays a bigger role in eight times more severe crashes than federal estimates suggest, including tractor trailer crashes.

AAA studied dashboard video from 700 accidents, and the group’s Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that nearly 10% of all wrecks involved fatigued drivers. This determination was based upon the amount of time the drivers’ eyes were closed just before the crash. The portion increases to almost 11% in severe accidents. Federal estimates have been only 1-2% of crashes are due to fatigued driving.

AAA states that some of the risks of drowsy driving includes driving across lanes and not remembering the last few miles driven. Truck drivers are more likely to engage in drowsy driving because they are driving long hours. When they crash, the injuries can be devastating and even fatal because of the size of the rig.

The safety group noted that many American drivers get less than seven hours of sleep per night. While many thing skipping sleep is harmless, it can more than quadruple your chances for an accident. In some cases, driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving intoxicated.

Our View

As Virginia and North Carolina truck accident attorneys, we know the dangers of truck drivers driving when they are fatigued. It is estimated that 13% of truck accidents are because of fatigue. Truck drivers may fall asleep because they are driving longer than they should, despite federal limits on the number of hours they can drive in a given period. However, truck driver fatigue can also be because of shippers. Companies demand their merchandise be delivered on time and may pressure drivers to keep going when they are tired.

Our truck accident personal injury attorneys have been successful in winning large personal injury settlements involving tired truck drivers. This can be challenging.

A key to winning a truck driver fatigue case is showing the driver was tired and was unfit to drive when the crash occurred. This can be done by questioning witnesses or police why may have seen the trucker acting in a tired manner after the accident. He may have admitted after the accident that he was sleepy, as well. A review of the trucker’s log may also reveal if he was fit to drive when the crash occurred.

Our truck crash attorneys worked a case in Virginia that resulted in a $5.5 million settlement where a fatigued truck driver rear ended a family’s vehicle at a stop light. The children in the rear suffered serious head injuries. Truck drivers owe an obligation to public safety to be certain they have had enough rest when they drive.