The Dangers of Drowsy Driving and Lack of Punishment

Posted in Car Accidents on February 28, 2017.

Alabama police officials and lawmakers are bringing a very serious concern to the public’s attention: drowsy driving. Most Americans are aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but many do not realize that driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous. In an effort to bolster awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving, state officials recently declared November 19 as Drowsy Driving Awareness Day in Alabama. This is currently the only official measure taken to combat the number of deaths and injuries caused by drowsy driving in Alabama.

Falling asleep at the wheel is essentially a form of negligence, and a drowsy driver who causes injuries or fatalities due to falling asleep at the wheel will be held liable for these results. Unfortunately, many people push their bodies too far and attempt to drive when they are too tired to pay close enough attention to the road and the traffic around them.

Facts About Drowsy Driving

Some of the most dangerous aspects of drowsy driving mirror the known risks of driving under the influence. When drivers are sleepy, they are less able to pay attention to the road. Sleepiness also impacts judgment and reaction time. An estimated 6,000 fatal crashes happen each year because of drowsy driving, according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some people are more susceptible to drowsy driving than others. Research estimates that more than 70 million Americans – about a quarter of the country – suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. Some people experience the effects of these disorders for years without realizing they have a medical issue that could potentially cause serious damage. Many prescription medications cause drowsiness or diminished reaction time, and driving after taking such medications is extremely risky.

Trucking Industry Risks

Truck drivers are cited as a high-risk group for drowsy driving. Trucking is an integral part of the American economy, and truck drivers are responsible for transporting goods across the country. Truck drivers often have to contend with tight deadlines, and may be tempted to push their bodies too far in an effort to get where they are going on time. Tractor-trailers are so much larger than typical passenger vehicles, so a truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel can potentially cause damage to multiple cars and wound or kill other drivers caught in the destruction.

The trucking industry has worked to reduce the number of drowsy truck drivers by enforcing strict rest period guidelines. Truck drivers are only permitted to spend a certain amount of time on the road on any given day. These measures, as well as new cutting-edge driver monitoring systems, have been deployed to curb the number of injuries and deaths caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Problems With Drowsy Driving Punishments

When a driver falls asleep at the wheel and causes damage, he is typically considered negligent and responsible for the damage. Since there are no clear laws against driving while drowsy, there are no deterrents in place to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel when they are too tired to drive. Being sleepy is not a crime – just very unsafe if you plan to drive. Unlike drug and alcohol use, police officers can’t test a suspicious driver for being tired. The only effective way to stop drowsy-driving accidents is to encourage awareness of its dangers.

The new Drowsy Driving Awareness Day in Alabama is designed to give attention to this issue in the state and hopefully prevent further deaths and injuries. It’s important for drivers to remember that it is never worth driving while tired. If you feel as though you’re falling asleep behind the wheel, or that you may fall asleep, it’s better to pull over somewhere to rest before continuing your journey.

If you were injured in an accident with a drowsy driver, contact our Birmingham car accident lawyers today for immediate help.