Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2019 at 5:28 am
Texas is a big state. That means that there are many drivers out on our highways who drive long distances. Truck driver hours are supposed to be monitored, but that control, limited as it is, doesn’t apply to the vast number of drivers who may decide for one reason or another that they are immune from fatigue. In fact, fatigue, drowsy driving, tiredness, whatever you wish to call it, is a major reason for accidents on Texas highways.
Drowsy driving is not just due to not having enough sleep. It can be caused by:
- sleep disorders;
- sudden change in shift work hours;
- jet lag after a long distance flight;
- alcohol or drugs.
By far most common is plain old tiredness. A driver is heading home from a vacation, seeing relatives or work and is tempted to keep going rather than heed advice to stay fresh behind the wheel and get some much needed rest, preferably sleep. Having a coffee every now and again might help a little, but doesn’t compensate for real sleep. The sensible long distance driver plans his or her trip in advance and spends a night or two on the way in a motel or hotel. Research has shown that pulling over in a safe place and having a nap can make a real difference on a long trip and is certainly far safer than keeping going.
The statistics behind drowsy driving are frightening
Numerous surveys have been conducted into the incidence of falling asleep at the wheel and drowsy driving. There are also more authoritative statistics, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The suspected cause of every traffic accident across the U.S. is categorized for statistical purposes. It’s hard sometimes to work out just how drowsy driving is involved, as an accident may very well have had contributory factors, even if the major factor is the one that is registered on the NHTSA statistics.
According to the NHTSA, there were 800 deaths in 2013 caused by drowsy driving, but these figures may be grossly underestimated. There may be far more fatal crashes that have been caused at least in part by fatigue, perhaps as many as 6,000 annually. The NHTSA data also revealed that there were 44,000 injuries in that same year (2013) and 72,000 crashes.
Perhaps even more frightening is the data from surveys into the incidence of driving while asleep. There have been numerous surveys which rely on anecdotal accounts. About 4% of people surveyed commonly report having fallen asleep behind the wheel, even if it was only for a few seconds. Those figures are only for the last 30 days! The number increases when drivers are asked whether they fell asleep at any time during the last 12 months. About 20% of drivers have admitted when asked whether they had fallen asleep, even for only very short periods, in the last year. 40% of drivers have admitted that they had fallen asleep at least once in their lifetime of driving.
You can’t stop other drivers from falling asleep
These figures are actually quite concerning. There is plenty of advice for all drivers that implores them not to drive when feeling tired or sleepy. For those who are reading this blog, all it takes is not to get behind the wheel and pretend to be a hero when you are tired or feeling drowsy. But even if you are feeling totally alert, that doesn’t mean you are never going to be hit by a drowsy driver. You can’t control what other drivers do behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving accidents are unfortunately most likely to happen on long stretches of highway between major urban centers and less likely in heavy traffic. That means that if you are hit by a drowsy or tired driver it is likely that the impact was at high speed.
If you, or a loved one, have been hit by a drowsy driver in or around McAllen and have been injured or your car damaged, or both, you have the right to claim compensation from the at-fault driver.
You will need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. You can rely on the Patino Law Firm in McAllen for expert legal help. Call the Patino Law Firm to arrange an appointment at 956-631-3535.