Skip to Content

Can Drowsy Driving Lead to an Accident?

Drowsy drivers are individuals who get behind the wheel when they are sleepy or fatigued. A variety of factors may cause their tiredness, but whatever the reason, driving when drowsy can be dangerous. When someone is tired, their normal faculties are diminished, rendering them incapable of safely operating a vehicle and making them more likely to get into a crash leading to serious or fatal injuries.

If a fatigued driver caused your car accident, you might have the right to file a claim to recover compensation for damages. Because of the complexities of these matters, it’s a good idea to have a personal injury attorney investigate your case and build a legal strategy.

At Rourke and Blumenthal LLC, we help the people of Columbus seek justice after being injured by another person’s negligence or recklessness. Please schedule a consultation by calling us at (614) 321-3212 or contacting us online today.

What Is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is when a person operates a vehicle when tired or even asleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 25 adults have said they have driven while sleepy.

Various factors can lead to driver fatigue, including:

  • Lack of sleep: A person might have been up late the night before because they were caring for a child, hanging out with friends, watching TV or movies, or other reasons.
  • Shift work: Working at night or long or irregular hours can mess with a person’s sleep cycle.
  • Medication: Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause drowsiness.
  • Sleep disorders: A person might fall asleep at the wheel if they have conditions such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy.

How Dangerous Is Drowsy Driving?

Driving while drowsy is highly unsafe.

Lack of sleep can affect a person’s:

  • Cognition,
  • Focus,
  • Reaction time,
  • Judgment, and
  • Coordination.

When any of these faculties are impaired because of sleepiness, a person might have difficulty maintaining proper control of their vehicle.

Drowsy drivers might:

  • Weave between lanes,
  • Fail to maintain a safe speed,
  • Follow too closely, or
  • Drive off the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2017 saw around 91,000 drowsy-driving-related crashes. The accidents led to about 50,000 people being injured. In 2020, drowsy driving collisions resulted in over 630 deaths. The NHTSA notes that the number of crashes attributed to fatigued drivers may be underestimated, as it’s difficult for investigators to identify concrete indicators of driver fatigue.

The NHTSA reports that most drowsy driving accidents are likely to occur:

  • Between midnight and 6:00 a.m. or midafternoon,
  • On rural roads or highways, or
  • When a single driver veers off the road.

What If Drowsy Driving Caused a Car Accident?

When motorists get on the road, they have a duty to drive in a way that does not put the safety of others in danger. Getting behind the wheel when tired or fatigued breaches that duty of care. If someone acts below the expected standards and causes an accident resulting in injury, death, or damage, they are considered negligent.

Negligent drivers can be held financially responsible for expenses and losses the victim suffered. To recover compensation, the injured party must prove that the other driver’s drowsiness is what caused the crash.

Showing that someone was falling asleep or asleep behind the wheel can be difficult. It requires presenting various pieces of evidence demonstrating that something caused the driver to be fatigued when on the road.

Evidence that may be presented in these types of cases includes, but is not limited to:

  • Cell phone records
  • Prescription or over-the-counter medication use
  • Records showing that the driver was up late, such as social media posts
  • Work schedules

Contact an Attorney for Help

Drowsy drivers can cause serious crashes, and victims of those accidents may have the right to pursue compensation. Collecting and preserving the evidence necessary to build and present a case can be challenging. That’s why it is crucial to have a lawyer handle the matter. They can analyze the facts and work toward a just result.

If you need legal representation in Columbus, please contact Rourke and Blumenthal LLC at (614) 321-3212.