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Drowsy/Fatigued Driving

Drowsy and fatigued driving is negligent driving, and it’s a growing problem on the highways and roads in Arkansas. A study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 20 percent of all drivers nationwide say they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. 

All motorists have a responsibility to exercise due care and caution to protect themselves and others. A person who decides to drive while fatigued is a danger to themselves and others on the road, and could be liable if they cause a serious or fatal injury accident. 

If you have been involved in a drowsy or fatigued driving accident, Paul Pfeifer and the team at the Pfeifer Law Firm are ready to help. Pfeifer is an Arkansas native who’s dedicated his career to helping personal injury victims get the justice they deserve and the money they need to rebuild their lives. 

Attorney Paul Pfeifer is licensed to practice law in every state and federal court in Arkansas, as well as the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. His strong record of securing positive results for his clients helped him earn an AV Preeminent ranking from the ratings agency Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest award the agency offers.

Our Little Rock car accident team has the skills and experience necessary to help you get compensation if you were hurt by a drowsy driver. For a 100% free case evaluation, call 501-374-4440 or visit our contact page.

What Makes Drowsy Driving So Dangerous?

To put the dangers of drowsy driving in perspective, consider that the National Safety Council reports that getting behind the wheel after 20 hours without sleep is about the same as driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, which is the legal limit in most of the United States.

Here are some of the specific ways in which drowsy driving impacts someone’s ability to drive:

  • Slower reaction times – Being fatigued makes people react more slowly to sudden hazards and other emergencies. If a driver can’t react quickly enough to avoid a car that suddenly moves into their path or some other hazard, it’s very easy for an accident to happen.
  • Clouded judgment – Being able to respond to an emergency situation while driving requires drivers to recognize the danger in front of them. A drowsy driver may not realize that a situation is dangerous until it’s too late, which gives them less margin for error to avoid an accident.
  • Greater difficulty navigating the roads – A driver who’s fighting off falling asleep is much more likely to drift in their lane or even slide into another lane without meaning to. When this happens, it’s extremely likely for the drowsy driver to run into someone else. They may also overreact when they realize what’s happening and overcorrect, leading to an accident.
  • Falling fully asleep at the wheel – When someone falls asleep at the wheel, their vehicle essentially becomes an unguided death trap aimed at anyone in their vicinity. Even if the driver doesn’t hit anyone else, they may run their vehicle off the road, putting their own life at risk.

What Causes People to Become Fatigued While Driving?

The most common and obvious cause of drowsy driving is, naturally, a general lack of sleep. However, there are a few more specific causes of drowsy driving accidents, including:

  • Infrequent rest breaks – Safety advocates suggest that all drivers should take a brief break every couple of hours to keep their energy levels up, even if you got plenty of sleep the night before a long drive. Not taking enough breaks can sap your energy and dull your awareness, increasing the chances of an accident occurring. Commercial truck drivers are especially vulnerable to going without sufficient breaks, as their strict delivery schedules encourage them to drive for as long as possible without stopping.
  • Alcohol or drug use – Alcohol and many narcotics can dull the senses and make you sleepy, making it harder to concentrate, as well as increasing the odds of falling asleep while driving. If a driver is already fatigued, these substances can exacerbate the effects of drowsy driving.
  • Prescription meds – Temporary drowsiness or sleepiness is a common side effect of many medications, but many drivers ignore warnings about the potential dangers legal drugs can pose. In some ways, prescription drugs can be more dangerous than alcohol or narcotics because they last longer.
  • Shift work – Working night shifts throws off our body’s natural rhythm, to the point that shift workers may feel tired even if they have technically gotten enough rest that they should feel OK. Shift workers are especially susceptible to drowsy driving when they’re driving after a late evening or early morning shift.

Proving a Driver Was Fatigued in an Accident Claim

Unlike drunk driving, there’s no simple test to determine if someone is too tired to be behind the wheel or if they were drowsy before an accident happened. That said, there are some ways that you and your Arkansas drowsy driving accident lawyer can demonstrate that a driver was fatigued at the time of the crash. These include:

  • Looking at the driver’s actions before the crash – If the driver was drifting in their lane, making erratic movements, running a red light, or making sudden changes in their speed, their driving ability may have been compromised by a lack of sleep.
  • Examining footage from traffic cameras – Surveillance footage may capture the interior of a driver’s vehicle before the crash, showing whether they had fallen asleep or not. Even if the footage does not show the driver directly, though, camera records can offer a clear picture of a driver’s actions in the moments before the crash, revealing whether they were fatigued or not.
  • Looking at the police accident report – Law enforcement officials are generally required to respond when an accident results in serious injuries. An accident report may contain information revealing the driver’s state of mind leading up to the crash, including whether they were fatigued or not.
  • Getting the driver’s medical records – If a driver had consumed alcohol, narcotics, or certain prescription medications, that information may demonstrate that they were driving while fatigued and may be found in the driver’s medical records.
  • See what the driver says about the accident – Severe fatigue wreaks havoc on a driver’s memory and recall. If a driver can’t remember what happened in the moments leading up to a crash, it may be an indication that they were driving on too little sleep.

Contact an Arkansas Drowsy Driving Accident Lawyer Today

Our firm is ready to help you however we can with your drowsy driving accident case. An experienced attorney can investigate your accident and help you build a compelling case for compensation. Get more information about our legal services by calling 501-374-4440 or visiting our contact page.