Fatigue Causes Car Accidents and Injuries in Virginia

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Fatigue Causes Car Accidents and Injuries in Virginia

Driver fatigue causes car accidents and injuries in Virginia every day. When you drive sleep-deprived for many hours, the effects can be as serious as drunk driving. While drunk drivers are often aware of their condition, fatigue can strike suddenly and unexpectedly, causing drivers to drift across the highway or to fail to stop when traffic slows down ahead of them.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue results in 1,550 deaths every year in the United States. Drowsiness causes 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents every year.

As many as 1 in 25 adult drivers aged 18 years or older reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days, noted Centers for Disease Control.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drivers ages 16-24 are nearly twice as likely to be involved in a fatigued driving crash than drivers ages 40-59. Almost 60 percent of drowsy driving accidents involve a driver who drifts across the road or into the lane of another vehicle. As many as 10 percent of all wrecks are caused by sleepy drivers.

The National Safety Council states driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is similar to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent – the legal limit for impaired driving in Virginia.

Fatigue causes too many accidents and injuries in Virginia. Unfortunately, the pressures of 21st-century life when many people are working multiple jobs and gigs means increasing numbers of fatigued drivers are on our roads. If you or a family member has been hurt in an accident caused by a tired driver, you have rights. Our Virginia car accident injury lawyers can help you.

Why Fatigue Causes Car Accidents and Injuries in Virginia

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours daily.

In the recent AAA Foundation survey, almost all of the drivers questioned said they view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and completely unacceptable behavior on the road. However, 29 percent admitted to driving when they were so tired they struggled to keep their eyes open in the month before the survey.

Our increasingly frenzied lives mean fatigued driving is becoming a more serious problem. More people are distracted by electronic devices and are suffering from interrupted sleep patterns. Other causes of drowsy driving are:

·      Shift work;

·      Conditions such as sleep apnea and diabetes;

·      Deadline pressures imposed on truck drivers;

·      Longer road trips associated with the resurgent U.S. economy.

Which Drivers are Most at Risk of Fatigued Driving?

Drivers who spend long hours on the highways of Virginia or elsewhere are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel. High-risk groups include:

  • Commercial drivers who operate tractor-trailers, buses, tow trucks, and company vans.

  • Shift workers, in particular, those who work night shifts

  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders where they habitually stop breathing such as sleep apnea

  • Older drivers

  • Drivers who use medications that make them sleepy.

Although drivers who work at nights or truckers are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel, anybody can become drowsy at the wheel.  The following are some warning signs.

Warning Signs of Fatigued Driving in Virginia

·       You find yourself yawning or blinking frequently;

·       You remember little about the last few miles;

·       You miss your exit;

·       You drift across lanes;

·       You wind down your window or put on cold air to feel more alert;

·       You hit a rumble strip on the side of the road.

AAA warns drivers not to rely on these signs. They should take action before embarking on a trip to minimize the risks of fatigued driving. the AAA research suggests. The organization’s research based on dashcam video of nearly 700 crashes suggested fatigued driving crashes occur nearly eight times more often than federal figures suggest. Drivers should aim to do the following:

·       Get plenty of sleep. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a day, while teens require at least 8 hours.

·       Develop disciplined sleeping habits like sticking to a sleep schedule.

·       If you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or have symptoms like snoring or feeling sleepy during the day, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

·       Avoid taking medications that make you sleepy or drinking alcohol. Read the labels on your medication and talk to your doctor.

·       If you feel sleepy on the road take a break in a safe place. Ideally, get someone else to take over the driving.

Fatigue Causes Truck Accidents and Injuries in Virginia

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration suggested fatigue is a factor in about 13 percent of big rig crashes. Often truck crashes caused by sleepiness are extremely serious. In 2017, a truck driver was sentenced to two years in prison for a crash that killed five people near Pooler in Georgia.

The 61-year-old trucker was convicted on vehicular homicide charges and charges of failure to exercise due care by falling asleep while driving and driving too fast for conditions in a road work zone on May 19, 2015, before hitting stopped vehicles.

The FMSCA’s hours-of-service regulations are meant to keep drowsy truckers off the road but they are often criticized as inadequate by safety organizations.

Call a Lawyer if Fatigue Causes Car Accidents and Injuries in Virginia

Fatigued drivers cause car, truck, bus, and motorcycle wrecks across Virginia. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a fatigued driver, you have rights. At the Smith Law Center, our attorneys have been helping those hurt and the families of those killed by the actions of tired drivers for decades. Please call us today for help at (757).244.7000.