The government estimates that drowsy drivers cause about 72,000 serious injury crashes a year, and that number may be underreported.
Much like alcohol, fatigue slows reaction time, inhibits concentration, and impairs judgment ability. All these things significantly increase the risk of a serious car crash. In fact, driving after eighteen hours without sleep is like driving with a .08 BAC, and drivers who would never think about drinking and driving do not think twice about driving home after a long day at the office or a long night on the town.
Most of us are familiar with the statistics, because most people agree that driving while drowsy is dangerous. What are some of the causes and impact of fatigued driving?
Teen drivers are among the most at-risk drowsy drivers, because people under 20 usually need at least eight or nine hours of sleep a night to function properly. In addition to a simple late night or early morning, some other causes include:
- Undiagnosed Sleep Disorders: 70 million Americans may suffer from sleep apnea or other serious sleep disorders and not even know it, so even if they go to bed on time, they may not be getting enough quality rest.
- Shift Work: There’s an old saying that you can take the child out of a routine but you can’t take the routine out of a child. The same thing applies to adults, because most people are naturally drowsy between midnight and 6 a.m. and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Driving during these hours is dangerous, especially if the person’s work schedule recently changed.
- Alcohol and Drugs: These substances alone are enough to make people sleepy, and the danger is multiplied if there are any other risk factors.
One in 25 drivers admit that they have actually fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once in the past 30 days.
A critical injury hospital stay, such as a head injury, can cost up to $974,000. That figure does not include other medical costs, such as physical rehabilitation, airlift emergency expenses, and future corrective surgeries. Even a less severe injury, like a few broken bones, can result in a $40,000-plus hospital bill.
Most families have absolutely no way to pay these expenses. Moreover, because of the liability implications, many health insurance companies do not cover injury-related expenses if another person may be negligent.
While medical bills pile up, insurance companies often put intense pressure on families to settle their claims for less than full value, because they know that the likely out-of-work victim is under major financial strain.
To ease this financial pressure, attorneys send letters of protection to medical providers, guaranteeing them that they will be paid when the case is resolved. Moreover, attorneys will negotiate with these providers for lower fees, so they can keep more of their settlement money and apply it to other things.
Count On Experienced Attorneys
Drowsy drivers often cause significant injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. Home and hospital visits are available.
From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.