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The Dangers of Driving while Drowsy

In 2014, famous comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in an auto accident that was reported throughout the United States. A passenger in Tracy’s vehicle was fatally injured, a fellow comedian named James McNair. Morgan and the other passengers were critically injured. Civilians on the scene acted quickly to carefully remove Morgan and others from the crashed van, which had landed on its side in the middle of a busy freeway.

Tracy Morgan’s accident was reported to have been the result of a truck driver’s drowsy driving. The commercial truck driver for a leading retailer in America had been awake for more than 24 hours before the accident occurred.

Because of the comedian’s popularity, the accident made national news. But so many more drowsy driving accidents do not gain this much attention.

Why Drowsy Driving Occurs

Drivers today seem so preoccupied with accomplishing so many things at once, that they do not pay enough attention to the task at hand, that of keeping themselves, their passengers and other people on the roads safe. Multi-tasking through texting and driving is a major problem, as is talking on the cell phone and using handheld devices for other activities.

But drowsy driving has been a problem long since before such tech gadgets existed. Many people, commercial drivers particularly, believe that they can manage their driving longer than they should or longer than their body can tolerate. Many people get too little sleep before getting behind the wheel. Others know they are too tired to drive, but do not fully understand the ramifications of getting into the driver’s seat without enough rest.

Drowsy driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that four percent of Americans admit to knowingly driving despite being drowsy, on a routine basis. The American Automobile Association has reported that 7,500 auto accidents occur each year as the result of drowsy driving on America’s roads.

The Role of Fatigue in Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is not just, as many people think, due to falling asleep at the wheel. The category of drowsy driving also relates to fatigue. Fatigue causes people to suffer slowed reaction times, poor decision making, impaired judgment, reduced vision, general incoherence and sensory misperception – such as in poor depth perception.

Drivers who are sleepy or fatigued also tend to exercise less caution behind the wheel, engage in greater risk and drive more aggressively. People who suffer from sleep disorders also add to the problem of drowsy driving. They are a greater risk for accidents due to sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. People who do not get more than five hours of sleep each night are also dangerously challenging their bodies and minds behind the wheel of their car.

Prevention of Drowsy Driving

To prevent drowsy driving and resulting accidents, ensure you get adequate sleep before driving your car, particularly before extended distance driving. Do not become distracted while behind the wheel, in using your smartphone or other devices to text, talk, or perform other tasks. When driving, always wear your seatbelt and mentally “check in” with yourself during your driving to determine whether you need to pull over and rest or stop driving for the day, altogether.

If you start to feel sleepy while driving, there is no excuse for not exercising caution by exiting the roadway as soon as you can safely do so. When you are traveling long distances, plan ahead to stop at a hotel room and do not try to push your body farther than you are physically able to go. When it is time for sleep, you should give yourself that rest. The cost of a hotel stay is far less expensive than an auto accident, especially one in which you are liable for injuries, property damage and even death.

If you have sleeping problems, consult with your doctor to find the problem and gain appropriate help. A sleep disorder may be easily recognized and treated. When are sleepy but still must travel, use a paid transportation service such as a bus, taxi or other driver-for-hire.

Drowsiness can be a problem at any time of day. It can be caused by sleep deprivation and even other factors, such as poor nutrition. Early mornings, evenings, night and afternoon rush hours are the most common timeframes of drowsy driving. If you see a driver who appears to be driving drowsy or nodding off behind the wheel, call 911 so emergency responders can protect that driver and others on the road. Always use your best judgment, remain cautious of your behaviors and others’, and remain alert behind the wheel.

Legal Help When Drowsy Driving Accidents Occur

You need the help of an experienced car accident attorney, if you have been victimized, injured or suffered property damage because of a drowsy driver. Through the guidance and support of a personal injury lawyer, you can gain compensation for your injuries. This is particularly true if the driver injuring you is a commercial truck driver, such as the driver in the actor Tracy Morgan’s case.

That driver in Tracy Morgan’s accident, Kevin Roper, was charged with first degree aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and eight counts of aggravated assault in varying degrees. Tracy Morgan was awarded a substantial settlement with Walmart, the owner of the truck Roper was driving, and Roper’s employer.

If you have been injured in a drowsy driving accident due to the actions of another driver, call the experienced car accident and personal injury lawyers of Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law Accident Law at (602) 691-7278.


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