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Burke Law

Auto Accidents and Drivers Falling Asleep

By Sean Burke on June 17, 2018

A car accidentAuto accidents occur due to a wide range of causes. When an auto accident is caused by another driver falling asleep at the wheel, it can result in a head-on collision. These types of accidents are associated with a high rate of serious injuries and fatalities.

In fact, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 100,000 people are injured or killed each year as a result of a driver falling asleep at the wheel or being inattentive due to fatigue.

At Burke Law, Sean M. Burke, Heather J. Higson, and Jason N. Argos have experience handling cases involving auto accidents and drivers falling asleep at the wheel. To have one of our attorneys review your case, contact our Orange County, CA law firm today.

The Statistics

Evidence has shown that drowsy driving is an extremely dangerous driving behavior. Here are some startling statistics about drowsy driving:

  • According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours causes a level of impairment similar to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. This is the limit for which California drivers can get a DUI.
  • According to data published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving within the previous 30 days.
  • The NHTSA estimates that drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.

Types of Crashes that May Occur

Drowsy driving is more likely to occur late at night or early in the morning. Accidents involving this dangerous behavior are more common on rural roadways and highways.

When drivers fall asleep at the wheel, these types of accidents have the potential to cause more serious injuries and death. In many cases, drivers that fall asleep will drift out of their lane and cause a head-on collision with a car in another lane.

If drivers are awake but drowsy, they are more likely to not pay attention to the road. They tend to:

  • Take longer to stop, which can increase the risk of a rear end accident.
  • Drift out of their own lane, which can cause a side swipe accident or head-on collision.
  • Have slower reaction times, which can lead to delayed braking and steering in the event of an emergency.
  • Be more likely to make poor decisions, which can increase the risk of all types of car accidents.

Liability in Auto Accident Cases Involving Drowsy Driving

In most cases, the driver that was drowsy is responsible for causing the auto accident. However, proving that the driver was drowsy can be challenging.

If there is no evidence that the driver slowed or stopped before the accident, this is a good indicator that the driver was asleep at the wheel. We will work with an accident reconstruction expert who will use skid marks and other information at the scene, along with witness testimony, to show fault.

Some drowsy drivers may be under the influence of alcohol. We will check the police reports to determine if this was a factor in your case.

To schedule a time for one of our attorneys to review your drowsy driving-related auto accident case, contact Burke Law today.

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