The operation of a motor vehicle while being impaired by the lack of sleep is often referred to as drowsy or fatigued driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that about 21 percent of all fatal traffic accidents involve drowsy driving. That number might actually be higher. Unlike drunk driving, there’s no scientific mechanical device to test for drowsiness. Most drivers aren’t going to admit to police that they fell asleep at the wheel either.
According to the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, there have been 418 accidents in New Jersey in 2021 and 438 fatalities.
What This Article Covers
- The Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Car Accidents
- Who is a Higher Risk of Causing a Drowsy Driving Accident?
- How Do You Prove Drowsy Driving?
- When to Hire a Lawyer for a Fatal Car Accident
A Recent Crash
A fatal drowsy driving accident hit close to home recently. A 34-year-old school teacher from New Jersey who is accused of falling asleep at the wheel was recently taken into custody on a fatigued driving fatality accident that occurred in Gloucester County at about 3:20 a.m. He has been charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and endangering a victim. The victim was a 44-year-old female pedestrian who died from blunt head trauma. Along with the criminal charges, a wrongful death civil lawsuit is likely to follow.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Car Accidents
Like alcohol, sleep deprivation significantly affects a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in a safe and careful manner. It affects coordination and judgment, and it also slows a driver’s reaction time. The ability to process and retain information is also affected.
This GHSA graphic shows how the impairment is similar to blood alcohol content.
Who is a Higher Risk of Causing a Drowsy Driving Accident?
Most drowsy driving crashes occur in the middle of the afternoon or early in the morning. They often happen on highways or rural roads with monotonously long stretches that seem to hypnotize drivers. Typically characteristic of a drowsy driving crash is a single-vehicle accident without any evidence that the driver attempted to slow or stop the vehicle. That’s why the injury and fatality rates in drowsy driving crashes are higher than most others. No attempt to slow down or stop was ever made. The NHTSA advises that the following individuals are more at risk for a drowsy driving accident than others:
- Males between the ages of 17 and 23.
- People who work at night or who work long or irregular hours.
- Drivers who sleep less than six hours a night.
- Drivers with sleep disorders.
How Do You Prove Drowsy Driving?
When we investigate a suspected drowsy driving car accident, our law firm looks at several pieces of evidence to build a case. They ordinarily consist of the following:
- Crash scene photos.
- A police report entry noting an absence of skid marks.
- Security or traffic camera footage showing how the crash occurred.
- Eyewitness testimony about weaving or having difficulty staying in a lane.
- Checking the driver’s prescription medication side effects.
- Checking work records for an unusually long shift.
Bringing a Claim or Lawsuit
Whether the suspected drowsy driver is a private person or a commercial driver, you’ll want to bring a negligence claim or lawsuit in order to obtain compensation for your injuries or the loss of a family member. If a commercial truck driver caused the crash, there are hours of service laws that the driver must comply with. A violation of those regulations might be proved by log book entries, GPS information or data from any computer system that the truck might be equipped with.
When to Contact a South New Jersey Fatal Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a suspected drowsy driving crash, or if you lost a family member in one, we encourage you to contact our offices. You can arrange for a free consultation and case review with one of our experienced Cherry Hill Personal Injury Lawyer.
There’s no obligation, and you won’t need to pay us any type of a retainer fee. That’s because we only get paid legal fees if we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve successfully represented other victims of drowsy driving crashes in the past.