Driving without obtaining enough sleep can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Fatigue impairs a driver’s coordination and response time in many of the same ways that alcohol does. Drowsy drivers are less able to think clearly, respond quickly, and make sound decisions. Some estimates show that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 car wrecks every year.
According to research, a driver who has been awake for at least 21 continuous hours experiences the same impairments of someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. In the United States, a BAC of 0.08 percent is considered the point of legal intoxication. Drowsy driving impairs a person’s ability to drive safely in the following ways:
- Compromised decision-making
- Shorter attention span
- Slowed reaction time
In addition to these symptoms of fatigue, microsleep incidents are another incredibly dangerous risk of drowsy driving. A microsleep is a brief, uncontrollable period of sleep, ranging anywhere from a fraction of a second to 10 seconds or more. These involuntary episodes occur when a tired person is fighting to stay awake. If the tired person is at home on a couch, microsleep is not dangerous. However, if a driver drifts off to sleep, even for a few seconds, the impact can be catastrophic. It only takes two to three seconds for a major wreck to occur.
Signs You Should Pull Over
It may be time to pull over and rest if you are:
- Driving onto the highway rumble strip
- Forgetting the last few exits or miles
- Having trouble keeping your head up or eyes open
- Missing an exit or turn
- Experiencing near collisions with other vehicles or property
It is a dangerous misconception that turning the volume on the radio up or opening the window can counteract the signs of fatigue. Only sleep can restore a drowsy driver’s ability to drive safely. Even a quick 20-minute power nap can make you feel recharged and ready to take on the rest of your journey.
What to Do If You are Injured in a Drowsy Driving Wreck
Every driver needs to know the risks of drowsy driving and recognize the signs that it is time to pull over and rest. A driver who drifts off for even two or three seconds has no control of their vehicle and can cause a tragic collision with pedestrians, vehicles, or buildings. Virginia law allows car accident victims to seek compensation for the physical pain and suffering, medical costs, property damage, and other losses resulting from a drowsy driving wreck. Yet, determining if a driver was too impaired to drive safely is not always simple. While blood and urine tests exist to detect alcohol, fatigue is not as easy to establish.
If you have been injured in a wreck caused by a drowsy driver, it is important to seek the counsel of a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer familiar with the unique issues surrounding fatigue-related crashes. An experienced personal injury lawyer gathers all the necessary evidence to establish a driver’s negligence. That means reviewing information about their activities leading up to the crash, details of the crash scene, and eyewitness reports that suggest drowsy driving, drunk driving, distracted driving, or other unsafe driving behaviors directly caused a preventable car accident.
Our Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Represent Victims of Fatigue-Related Crashes
There is no doubt drowsy driving endangers the lives of others. If you or a loved one was hurt in a preventable fatigue-related car accident, you may have cause to file a claim in Virginia. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we will learn about your rights and options to pursue compensation for all the ways a crash has changed your life. To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Virginia Beach car accident lawyer today, call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to get started. Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we represent clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.