Drowsy driving is not safe, but unfortunately many people underestimate the risks. The scope of the problem of fatigued driving is also underestimated since it is difficult to get accurate data on exactly how many drowsy driving collisions occur each year. Recently, however, the Governors' Highway Safety Association published a troubling new report on drowsy driving which offers further evidence that the problem of fatigued motorists is a very serious issue.
When someone who is fatigued gets behind the wheel, there is a significantly increased risk that the tired motorist will cause an accident to happen. If this occurs, victims should seek help from a New Jersey personal injury law firm. An attorney can provide assistance in fighting for compensation from the fatigued driver who caused the crash so victims can recover monetary damages for their losses.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving for New Jersey Motorists
According to the GHSA report, there are close to 83.6 million Americans who drive every single day who are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Teenagers and young adults are demographic groups that are at great risk of fatigued driving, with people in these age groups reportedly involved in around half of all drowsy driving collisions.
Around 40 million Americans who have some type of sleep disorder also are more likely to drive while tired, as are people who work the night shift, long shifts or irregular shifts.
With so many tired people on the road, it comes as no surprise that there are a significant number of collisions caused by fatigue throughout the United States.
Assessing the exact number and percentage of deaths is impossible because police don't always know how to recognize fatigue, as many drivers do not always report to police that they were tired at the time of the accident and many police accident reports do not list drowsy driving as a crash cause even when fatigue clearly played a role.
Still, estimates suggest anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of all fatalities on U.S. roads are attributed to drowsy driving. In total, experts believe around 5,000 lives are lost each year due to motorist fatigue, although this number may be much higher.
The problem of fatigued driving is serious enough that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded its definition of “impaired driving” to include drowsy driving along with drunk and drugged driving.
The NHTSA's change in the definition of impaired driving to include drowsy driving could affect legislation, enforcement and public education efforts aimed at preventing fatigued driving. NHTSA is also encouraging the development of in-vehicle technologies that could help to fight fatigued driving.
Ultimately, it is up to each driver to know when he or she is getting tired and needs to stop and rest. If a driver does become too fatigued and continues driving, he can be held liable to victims for losses if a collision occurs.
Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, P.A., a personal injury law firm in New Jersey, can represent drowsy driving victims and help them seek compensation for losses caused by a crash. Victims who are hurt or surviving family members of victims killed in drowsy driving collisions should seek legal help from an experienced attorney as soon as possible.