Fatigued Driving Wrecks in Virginia

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Fatigued Driving Wrecks in Virginia

Fatigued driving is a problem as serious as distracted or drunk driving.  Every year, drowsy drivers kill dozens of people in Virginia, and many more are injured. Victims of fatigued driving wrecks in Virginia are entitled to make a recovery for their injuries.

The full scale of drowsy driving is unclear but studies suggest sleepy drivers cause as many as 10 percent of crashes. Driver tiredness causes about 1,550 deaths every year in the United States, federal regulators state.

A study by the National Sleep Foundation, found as many as 36 percent of Americans experience sleepiness behind the wheel.

Research by AAA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in 2018 suggested the percentage of wrecks involving drowsiness is almost eight times higher than federal estimates suggest.

AAA pointed to the difficulties in detecting drowsy driving. The new research used an unprecedented analysis of in-car dashcam video from more than 700 crashes.

Fatigued driving wrecks in Virginia are particularly serious when commercial vehicles are involved. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates about 13 percent of all truckers were tired at the time of their crash.

If you or a family member has been involved in a wreck caused by a fatigued driver, it’s important to contact an experienced Virginia auto accident injury attorney as soon as possible rather than dealing directly with an insurance company.

 How to Avoid Fatigued Driving Wrecks in Virginia

 Often tired drivers fail to realize the dangers of remaining on the road. Driving after 20 hours or more without sleep is often compared to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, the level required for a DUI conviction in Virginia.

Drivers don’t always realize they are tired. They can experience micro-sleep which is short bursts of inattention. Sleep experts say a burst of micro-sleep of less than 5 seconds is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field on the highway.

You should be aware of the signs of tired driving that can cause a fatigued driving wreck. The National Sleep Foundation advises drivers to look for the following signs:

  • Problems focusing, blinking frequently, or heavy eyelids

  • Yawning and rubbing your eyes often;

  • Disconnected thoughts and daydreaming;

  • Frequently opening the window for fresh air;

  • Issues remembering details about the last few miles driven; missing traffic signs and exits;

  • Difficulty keeping your head up;

  • Drifting across a lane, hitting the rumble strips on a shoulder or veering across the road.

  • Feelings of irritability.

 If you experience any of these signs of fatigue, you should pull over and stop driving.

 What To Do if You Experience Fatigue at the Wheel

One of the most effective ways to prevent fatigued driving wrecks in Virginia is to get a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests people should get 7-8 hours’ sleep every night.

If you start to feel tired while driving you should:

  • Find a safe location and pull over for a short nap of 20 minutes or so;

  • Stop and drink coffee or another drink containing caffeine;

  • Don’t rush to reach your destination. Excess speed and fatigue are a dangerous combination;

  • Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. if possible. You are more likely to be sleepy during this time.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Even small levels of alcohol will make you more drowsy.

  • Use a co-driver. Ideally, swap driving shifts and aim to sleep when the other driver takes over.

  • Take a pre-drive nap. Taking a short sleep before a road trip can help make up for an interrupted night's sleep.

Fatigued Driving Wrecks in Virginia – Call an Experienced Injury Lawyer

 Fatigued driving wrecks in Virginia are highly preventable. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel are typically found to be negligent or even reckless in car accidents. However, it’s not always easy to prove a driver was drowsy. An experienced injury lawyer will look at the underlying facts like how long the driver was on the road without a break. We will find out of the driver suffered from medical conditions like sleep apnea that can cause drowsiness if untreated. After a commercial vehicle accident, we will check log books to find out how long a trucker was driving for. Often insurance companies will attempt to claim a driver was not drowsy.

You need an experienced legal team on your side. Call the Smith Law Center today for a free consultation at 757.244.7000.