In this day and age, with multiple distractions at a driver’s fingertips, motoring has more inherent dangers than ever before. Car and truck accidents in Des Moines are a fact of life but the frequency and severity of accidents can be reduced by eliminating factors that are within a driver’s control such as driving while tired.
From a personal injury lawyer’s standpoint, if you are injured in a car accident caused by a tired driver, your case would proceed much like any other injury case that did not involve a tired driver. A claim, based on negligence, would be made against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and a settlement negotiated or a lawsuit would be commenced.
In all probability, a tired driver will never admit to sleepiness being a contributing factor to the car accident. Therefore, it important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows what information to demand and from whom as well as what questions to ask in order to build a case that will enable a jury to see the tired driver as being responsible for your crash.
Sleep deprivation and its role in car accidents:
Whether driving through downtown Des Moines or on one of Iowa’s rural roads, it goes without saying that falling asleep at the wheel is very dangerous. However, driving while tired, even if you don’t fall asleep, is also dangerous and impacts your driving ability. Just a few of the ways in which drowsy or tired driving can effect drivers are:
• Drowsy drivers are typically much less attentive and, thus, more prone to crash.
• Driving while tired slows a driver’s reaction time.
• Tired driving impacts a driver’s decision making ability.
Common tired drivers:
While anyone can fall prey to driving while tired, there are certain occupations and people who are more prone to drowsy driving. This list, while not exhaustive, includes:
• Over the road truck drivers.
• People who work uncommon shifts such as the overnight or “graveyard shift”.
• People who work unusually long shifts.
• People with sleep problems such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
• People who use various medications.
Frequency of people falling asleep while driving:
The Center for Disease Control conducted a study of approximately 150,000 drivers over the age of 18, of whom just over 4% reported falling asleep while driving in the 30 days preceding the study. That means that over 6000 drivers, from that study alone, were on the roads of America – an alarming statistic to say the least.
Estimates indicate that approximately 15% of semi-truck accidents involve fatigue in one manner or another. Furthermore, approximately 12.5 billion dollars are lost each year as the result of tired driving crashes.
Two other dangerous conditions that are related to drowsy driving and contribute to car accidents in Iowa are highway hypnosis and velocitization.
As you can see, car and truck accidents that are caused, at least in part, by driver fatigue are not to be taken lightly. Therefore, your choice of personal injury lawyer should not be taken lightly either. The lawyers at Des Moines Injury Law.com have first-hand experience representing people who have been injured by tired drivers.
Tips for preventing fatigue related car accidents:
Although there is no fool-proof way to absolutely prevent tired driving, there are things that every driver can, and should, do help cut down on the prevalence of it. Following are but a few suggestions that can be taken to help prevent fatigue related car accidents:
• Sleep…enough! The National Institute of Health reports that the average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep per night. Young drivers need even more sleep with somewhere between nine and ten hours per night being the recommendation.
• Seek treatment for sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea.
• Don’t drink alcohol or take medications that can interfere with driving and contribute to car accidents.
• When possible, take a pre-tip nap.
• Use the buddy system on road trips. Two or more drivers switching up every two hours or so is a good idea.
• The human body has a circadian rhythm that, in essence, tells us when to sleep; for most people, that time is typically between midnight and six in the morning. Therefore, if possible, avoid driving during that time frame.
• Plan your time appropriately and take into account traffic and weather conditions. Proper planning can eliminate the need to rush to your destination and thus cut down on car accidents in Des Moines and elsewhere.
• Drink a caffeinated beverage but, beware, the effects of caffeine wear off in about two hours.
If you are looking for additional insight into tired driving, the Center for Disease Control and the National Sleep Foundation are two great sources.
The effects of alcohol and sleep deprivation on driving:
Most people would never even entertain the thought of driving drunk. However, many of those same people would never give a second thought to driving while tired. That said, drunk driving and tired driving are not terribly dissimilar.
For example, the cognitive ability of the human brain drops considerably after about seventeen sleepless hours. Some studies have shown that cognition under that circumstance is equal to someone having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of about .05% – nearly equaling the .08% cutoff for legal driving. After approximately twenty-four sleepless hours, the cognition level is that of someone with a BAC of .10% – above the legal driving limit!
Furthermore, someone need not be awake for hours on end to be impacted by the effects of alcohol as it enhances the symptoms of sleep deprivation almost immediately upon consumption.
Some signs of tired-driving include:
• Frequent blinking
• Frequent yawning
• Lapses in memory
• Missed off ramps
• Difficulty staying in the correct lane of traffic
If you or another driver experience the above symptoms – stop driving! Get some rest or change drivers as there is nothing you have to do nor anywhere you need to be that is more important than your safety and the safety of those around you.
Contact a Des Moines car accident attorney:
If you or a loved one has been injured in car accident caused by a tired driver, or by any other means, contact one of our Des Moines personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We can be reached at 515-493-4878.