Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents. Drivers who drive while excessively tired place their fellow drivers at risk. Thousands of drivers and passengers experience car accidents caused by fatigued drivers every year. There is no measurable test to determine the driver's level of fatigue. Nonetheless, research studies have indicated that driving while tired can be as dangerous as drunk driving in some instances.
If you have suffered an injury in a Charlotte car accident caused by a fatigued driver, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries. Under North Carolina's personal injury laws, drivers who breach their duty of care and cause a car accident are responsible for damages caused by those accidents. Our skilled personal injury attorneys know how to conduct thorough investigations into the cause of the car accident. To discuss how our attorneys can advise you as to your legal rights, contact our Charlotte personal injury law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.The Prevalence of Driver Fatigue in Causing Car Accidents
The National Sleep Foundation reports that nearly half of all adult drivers in the United States admit to driving while feeling drowsy. Approximately 20% of drivers surveyed admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point within the last year. In another troubling statistic, over 40% of drivers admit that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once in their driving career.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recently reported that approximately 5,000 people died in car accidents involving drowsy drivers in 2015. This statistic is probably significantly lower than the actual number of drowsy drivers who cause accidents. In many cases, drivers do not admit to driving while tired, and it can be challenging to prove that they were dangerous.How Dangerous is Driver Fatigue?
Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. A driver's reaction time, ability to sustain attention, and awareness of hazards all worsen as the driver becomes more drowsy. Some studies have shown that driving after not sleeping for 20 or more hours is equivalent to driving with .08% blood alcohol concentration.
In North Carolina and many other states set the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration at .08%. Thus, drivers who have not slept in 20 or more hours can be as dangerous as those who drive while under the influence of alcohol. Finally, fatigued drivers are three times more likely to experience a car accident than drivers who are not fatigued.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 100,000 car accidents involving drowsy driving happen every year. These motor vehicle collisions cause over 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries every year. These statistics only account for accidents in which a police officer reports drowsy driving. Relevant research suggests that drowsy driving fatalities are likely 350% more common than reported by police officers.
In addition to causing injuries, drowsy driving causes extensive property damage. The NHTSA estimates that every year, car accidents related to fatigue that results in fatalities or injuries cost $109 billion annually in property damage, medical costs, and other costs. The $109 billion does not include property damage caused in motor vehicle accidents that did not involve an injury or death.Common Characteristics That Indicate Driver Fatigue
Proving that driver fatigue caused, or played a significant factor in the motor vehicle accident is not always easy. That is why the skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC undergo thorough investigations into our client’s motor vehicle accidents. Certain circumstances or characteristics indicate that driver fatigue played a part in the car accident:
- Serious car accidents
- A vehicle swerves off of the road and leaves it
- A car accident occurs in the mid-afternoon, late at night, or early in the morning
- The driver is alone when the accident occurred
- The driver was with close friends or family members when the accident occurred
- The driver did not attempt to avoid the motor vehicle collision
The following groups of people are more at risk for driving while fatigued:
- Young adults age 16-29
- Employees who work late into the night
- Employees who engage in shift work
- People with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy
If you know or suspect that a fatigued driver caused the car accident that resulted in your injuries, you might be entitled to compensation. Successful plaintiffs may be entitled to monetary compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering. Contact our Charlotte personal injury attorneys today to schedule your free initial consultation. Call us now at 704-370-2828 to speak with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and our new location in Monroe.