April 6th marked Drowsy Driving Awareness Day in California. This day was first proclaimed in 2005, in memory of the wife of a retired California Highway Patrol officer who died in a drowsy driving car accident in Texas while traveling across country. Sadly, drowsy driving still does not get the attention it deserves as a leading cause of car accidents. New evidence reveals that drowsy driving may be a factor in more than one in ten serious crashes.
Official federal statistics put the figure at between one and two percent of fatal crashes being attributed to drowsy driving. That figure, however, may be much higher, according to a new study recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This study used camera footage to look for signs of drowsiness in drivers in the moments before an accident. The results found drowsy driving to be a factor in 9.5% of all accidents studied. The results were even higher – 10.8% – for more serious accidents, defined as those which caused physical injury or serious property damage, or where the airbag deployed.
Driving while fatigued is a negligent behavior, and drowsy drivers who cause auto accidents can be liable to injury victims for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other legal damages they have had to endure because of the drowsy driver’s negligence. Of course, there is no way to test a driver post-accident for drowsiness as there is with alcohol intoxication, but there are still ways a skilled personal injury attorney can determine from the accident investigation whether drowsy driving was involved. For instance, the pattern of skid marks and tire tracks caused by braking or swerving can help determine how the negligent driver reacted in the seconds before the accident, which can indicate drowsiness or a lack of attention. A complete lack of skid marks can also indicate that a driver was asleep at the wheel and therefore took no action at all to avoid the accident before it occurred.
If you find yourself yawning, blinking frequently, or having difficulty keeping your eyes open, these are warning signs that it is time to pull off the road safely and take a rest. Taking a walk and stretching or grabbing a coffee or soda may help you regain alertness, but a far better choice is to switch drivers or get some sleep. Other signs that you may be too fatigued to drive include running over those raised pavement markers between lanes (Botts’ Dots – a California invention), missing your turn or exit, or suddenly realizing you don’t really remember the last several miles or minutes of driving.
If you have been hurt in a Southern California car accident due to another driver’s negligence, including speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, or drowsy driving, call Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP at 562-698-6446 for a free consultation with our experienced and successful auto accident attorneys.