Louisiana Driver Fatigue Car Accident Attorneys
All of us have experienced it: the yawning, the loss of focus, and the brain fog of drowsiness. If you’re driving when fatigue sets in, your reaction time can slow, you might start drifting in your lane, or if you’re fatigued enough, you might even fall asleep at the wheel.
Obviously, fatigue and driving is a potentially deadly combination. A 2013 investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in that year.
However, fatigued driving is still extremely common in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that 1 in 25 adult drivers reported having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once in the past 30 days. The fact is, you’re at risk of being a drowsy driving crash victim nearly every time you get in your car.
What Causes Driver Fatigue?
Driver fatigue can result from one or a combination of multiple factors:
- Physical tiredness
- Long working hours
- Sleep deprivation
- Inadequate rest periods during long journeys
- Irregular work or sleep schedules
- Medical conditions, like sleep apnea
- Certain medications
- Certain times of day
Each of these factors alone can affect a driver’s ability to react to changing traffic conditions and stay in their lane. When combined, their effects multiply, leading to major driving risk for everyone on the road.
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Fatigue’s Effects on Driving
Fatigue makes it harder to properly perform a number of tasks, including driving. If you’re driving drowsy or fatigued, you may
- Nod off or experience microsleeps, which are brief episodes of sleep lasting anywhere from a fraction of one second to 30 seconds
- React more slowly to changes in other drivers, pedestrians, or road conditions
- Make worse decisions than if you were alert
- Drift out of your lane
- Partially lose your peripheral vision in what’s known as tunnel vision
- Forget the last few miles you drove
All of these effects contribute to your chances of causing a car accident. In fact, drowsy driving can be more dangerous than drunk driving: Nature reports that after 17 consecutive hours awake, for example, a driver’s impairment is equivalent to having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05. After 24 hours, their impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10, above the legal limit.
Signs That You’re Driving While Fatigued
If you start to feel drowsy while driving, the best thing to do is to find somewhere to stop and rest. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell when you’re fatigued, especially if you’re focused on getting to your destination. However, if you’re experiencing any of the following signs, you should find a stopping point as soon as you can:
- You can’t keep your eyes focused or open
- You find yourself blinking or yawning a lot
- Your head suddenly feels extremely heavy
- You can’t stop yawning
- You’re feeling restless, impatient, or irritable
- You can’t focus on the road
- You keep drifting out of your lane
- You miss signs or exits, even those that are extremely familiar
How to Avoid Driving Drowsy
The best way to avoid driving while fatigued is to not get behind the wheel if you’re tired or otherwise unable to drive safely. Some good daily habits to pick up include
- Getting adequate sleep. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, and making sure you get enough is the best way to stay alert throughout your day. A good night’s rest is especially important if you
- are embarking on a long road trip
- are a teenager: teenagers need more sleep than adults and tend not to get enough
- Avoiding drinking and driving. Not only does alcohol impair your driving ability, it makes you drowsy as well.
- Check your prescription and over-the-counter medication for possible side-effects, including drowsiness. If you take medications that could make you drowsy, avoid driving.
- Avoid driving when you’re likely to be drowsy. The human body becomes drowsy and alert through a system called the circadian rhythm. Regardless of how much sleep people have, they tend to get tired between midnight and 6 a.m., and during the late afternoon. If you must drive during these times, stay alert as to your attention level.
If you’re already on the road and become drowsy, you might think that drinking coffee or an energy drink will get you safely to your destination. However, drinking caffeinated beverages isn’t always enough to combat driver fatigue, and the effect of these drinks is usually short-lived.
The best thing to do if you get sleepy while driving is to find somewhere that you can grab a cup of coffee and a nap. Drink the coffee, then take a short 20-minute nap in a safe place. Studies have shown that this can increase awareness, but only for a short time.
Minimizing Driving Fatigue on the Job
Fatigued driving can be a particular problem for people who drive for work, like truck drivers, taxi drivers, and others. The responsibility to keep a commercial driving company’s employees well-rested lies on both the company and on the employees. Employers should do the following:
- Implement policies that set overtime and other limits
- Ensure sufficient staffing
- Provide training for employees on managing fatigue
- Allow for rest breaks and napping on extended shifts
- Encourage peer monitoring of fatigue
- Monitor employees for fatigue as they’re driving on the clock
In their turn, professional drivers should keep these tips in mind:
- Get enough healthy sleep, and allow enough time to get the sleep they need
- Watch themselves and coworkers for signs of fatigue
- Speak honestly if questioned about a fatigue-related accident
Determining Liability in a Louisiana Drowsy Driving Accident
If you’re the victim of a car accident caused by a drowsy driver, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, proving that the other party was fatigued at the time of your accident can be complicated.
That’s the biggest reason why you need an experienced Louisiana driver fatigue accident lawyer to collect the necessary evidence to prove the at-fault party was drowsy. A good car wreck lawyer will also serve as your advocate from the initial negotiations with insurance companies, all the way to court if need be.
What Should I Do If I’m the Victim of a Drowsy Driver?
If you’ve been hit by a driver you think might be fatigued, first you should call 911 to have your injuries attended to, as well as to give your statement to the officer that arrives on the scene. The medical and police reports will serve as vital evidence in your claim.
As soon as you can after the wreck, call an experienced drowsy driver accident lawyer like one of the Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys. We’re dedicated to our clients’ wellbeing, and we’ll fight for you to get the compensation you deserve after a devastating car wreck.
When you call Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys at 888.501.7888, you’ll receive a free consultation as to your legal rights. If you decide to hire us, we’ll start right away on your case. With the G Guarantee, you won’t owe us a dime until we win!
If you’ve been injured in a car accident with a drowsy driver, you deserve compensation for the pain and suffering you’re experiencing. Give the car accident lawyers with Gordon McKernan a call today to get started on your path to healing.
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