At some point, most people have experienced extreme fatigue. When feelings of drowsiness occur while driving, an individual is at an increased risk of both causing and being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Wandering thoughts, repeated yawning and drooping eyelids are all warning signs that a driver is too tired to operate a motor vehicle.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, annually in the U.S., an estimated 100,000 car accidents are attributed to drowsy driving. While the majority of these accidents involve drivers under the age of 25, drivers of any age are susceptible to suffering the ill effects of sleep deprivation or other drowsy-inducing sources like alcohol and certain medications.
There's no doubt that driving while overly fatigued is dangerous. In fact, an individual who has been awake for 18 hours displays the same difficulties with reaction time, concentration and reasoning as someone who has a "blood alcohol concentration of 0.08” which, in New Jersey, is considered legally drunk.
To combat drowsy driving among truck drivers, federal regulators have taken steps to regulate the number of hours and times of day truck drivers are allowed to work and drive However, when it comes to other drivers, it's difficult to combat drowsy driving. It's therefore up to drivers to be smart and exercise good judgment. In cases where a driver notices that his or her mind is wandering or eyelids feel heavy, it's wise to pull off the road at a safe exit. Taking a 20 minute nap or drinking a caffeinated beverage can help combat the ill-effects of drowsiness.
For individuals who have been negatively impacted by a car accident in which drowsy driving was a factor, legal action may be appropriate. If successful, a personal injury lawsuit can help recover damages related to painful injuries, disability, lost wages and medical expenses.