Drowsy Driving a Serious Risk for West Virginia Collisions

Aug 2014

Driving while you are fatigued can result in significant risk. A driver who has not gotten enough sleep may have delayed reaction times, impaired judgments and reduced cognitive function. The limitations faced by an impaired driver are similar to those faced by an intoxicated motorist.

Unfortunately, despite the dangers, most adults are not getting enough sleep and many are driving while fatigued. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims of motor-vehicle collisions.

Drowsy Driving Accident Dangers

Psych Central reports that an adult will generally require between seven and eight hours of sleep in order to get enough rest. An adult who gets less than this amount of sleep will start to build up a “sleep debt,” that has to be paid. The adult may experience health effects from the lack of sleep and may start to nod off or become extremely drowsy during the course of the day.

Unfortunately, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll and found that more than half of adults are getting less sleep than they should. Just 21.48 percent of adults responding to the survey said that they got between seven hours and eight hours of sleep. By contrast, 29 percent of survey respondents got less than six hours of sleep and 41.31 percent got between six and seven hours of sleep. Finally, 8.21 percent got eight hours or more of sleep. It should come as no surprise, then, that the data also shows that 1/3 of people admitted to dozing off behind the wheel in the past year and 60 percent of drivers admitted to fatigued driving in the prior 12 months.

The consequences of this can be seen on U.S. roads. A recent survey of drivers conducted by CarInsurance.com found that about half of motorists drove their cars even when it was not safe to do so. Of these motorists, 68 percent drove when they were drowsy. This was the number one problem cited by people who said that they operated a car despite concerns about safety.

People were driving drowsy despite the fact that Cheat Sheet reveals that 60 percent of survey respondents said they think drowsy driving should be illegal. Drowsy driving is not criminalized in most states. Only New Jersey and Arkansas deal directly with the offense; New Jersey classifies drowsy driving as reckless driving and Arkansas law says drivers can be charged with negligent homicide if they kill someone while fatigued.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that a motorist who is fatigued behind the wheel is more likely to become involved in a road departure crash, a head-on accident or a rear-end crash. Drowsy driving accidents are taking a major toll on motorists. The National Sleep Foundation has reported that accidents caused by fatigued drivers cause 1,500 annual fatalities and 71,000 injuries each year. The costs of drowsy driving accidents exceed $12.5 billion annually.

Drivers need to understand these risks and make better choices when it comes to prioritizing sleep and avoiding fatigued driving.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation.

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