Tired Drivers May be Cause of 15 to 33 Percent of Fatal Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes and 2.0% of all crashes with nonfatal injuries involve tired drivers who should not have been on the road. Some modeling studies have estimated that 15% to 33% of fatal crashes might involve drowsy drivers.

Just last month the son of a staff member at the firm was rear ended by a truck hauling a trailer filled with firewood. The truck driver admitted that he had not slept for over 24 hours.

“Commercial truck drivers should never risk falling asleep at the wheel or making a driving mistake because of fatigue,” said Fred Pritzker, lead attorney for our accident lawsuits. “We currently have two clients whose legs had to be amputated after an accident with a semi truck, and we recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family whose loved one was run over by a truck trailer.  These accidents should never have happened.”

You should contact Fred for a free consultation here.

To assess the prevalence of falling asleep while driving, CDC analyzed data from a set of questions about insufficient sleep administered through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The questions were asked of 147,076 people in 19 states and the District of Columbia (DC). Below are some of the findings:

  • 4.2% reported having fallen asleep while driving at least one time during the previous 30 days. Reports of falling asleep while driving were more common among adults who reported usually sleeping ≤6 hours per day, snoring, or unintentionally falling asleep during the day compared with other adults who did not report these characteristics.
  • Drowsy driving crashes are more likely to result in injuries and fatalities than non-drowsy driving crashes.
  • Those at increased risk for drowsy driving include commercial drivers, persons who work at night or long shifts, drivers with untreated sleep disorders, drivers who use sedating medications, and anyone who does not get adequate sleep.
  • Men were more likely to report drowsy driving than women (5.3% versus 3.2%).
  • Drowsy driving prevalence decreased with age, from >4.9% among adults aged 18–44 years to 1.7% among those aged ≥65 years.
  • Retired respondents (1.0%), students or homemakers (2.1%), and unemployed respondents (3.1%) were less likely to report drowsy driving than those who were employed (5.1%) or unable to work (6.1%).
  • Among the states involved in the study, drowsy driving prevalence ranged from 2.5% in Oregon to 6.1% in Texas.
  • Sleep-related crashes are more likely to happen at night or during the midafternoon, when drivers are more likely to be sleepy.
  • Sleep-related crashes make up a disproportionate portion of rear-end and head-on collision accidents.

It is important for drivers to know that drowsiness impairs driving skills even if drivers manage to stay awake. Drowsiness slows reaction time, makes drivers less attentive, and impairs decision-making skills, all of which can contribute to motor vehicle crashes.

Warning signs of drowsy driving include frequent yawning or blinking, difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missing exits, drifting from one’s lane, or hitting a rumble strip. The only safe thing for drivers to do if they start to feel tired while driving is to get off the road and rest until no longer drowsy.

Attorney Fred Pritzker has won millions for accident victims and their families. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was named an “Attorney of the Year” last year for winning a difficult wrongful death case.

We have information on specific trucking companies on our website. Below are a few:

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