Texting.  Emailing.  Facebook.  There’s a lot of discussion about distracted driving.  But drowsy or sleepy driving has to rank similarly in terms of causes of accidents.

Falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous, but being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely even if you don’t fall asleep. Drowsiness—

  • Makes drivers less attentive.
  • Slows reaction time.
  • Affects a driver’s ability to make decisions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving. These estimates are probably conservative, though, and up to 5,000 or 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.

Who’s more likely to drive drowsy?

  • Commercial drivers.
  • Shift workers (work the night shift or long shifts).
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
  • Drivers who use sedating medications.
  • Drivers who do not get adequate sleep.

These statistics become real-life accidents all the time.  The injuries and disrupted lives are real.  An example of a driver falling asleep with a car full of kids in Grays Harbor:

A man, woman and four children were hurt after the man who was driving fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed.

A 26-year-old man was driving on State Route 101 in Grays Harbor shortly after midnight Tuesday when he fell asleep and struck an embankment….

This is another “friends and family” type situation.  Who benefits if mom and the kids don’t bring a claim?  The insurance company.  In these situations–particularly where kids are involved–personal injury claims should be made whether dad, uncle or boyfriend is behind the wheel.

We handled a case in the fall of 2014 where a drowsy wife drove straight into a disabled vehicle.  We recovered a six figure settlement for the husband right before the case was set for trial.  The husband did the right thing for both himself and his family by pursuing the claim.

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