It’s no secret that drowsy driving is dangerous. Drivers who get behind the wheel when they’re too tired to drive safely cause auto accidents every day. But proving an accident was caused by a drowsy driver isn’t always as simple as it may seem.
At the Law Office of Todd W. Burris, we’ve been handling motor vehicle accidents for many years. We’ll provide a rundown of some of the types of evidence we look for to prove an accident was caused by a drowsy driver.
If you have questions about your own car accident caused by another driver’s choice to drive while drowsy, contact our office to learn more about how we can help you.
Evidence of Drowsy Driving
If you want to prove fault in a drowsy driving accident, your word will not be sufficient to convince the insurance company. You will need to definitively show that drowsy driving negligence was a contributing cause of the crash.
To establish liability in a drowsy driving accident, your lawyer will need to examine many aspects of the at-fault driver’s actions and patterns of behavior before the collision. To prove an accident was caused by a drowsy driver, your car accident attorney may use evidence such as:
- Traffic camera footage of a driver nodding off or falling asleep behind the wheel
- Medical records showing a health condition or need for medications that induce drowsiness
- Prescriptions or receipts for medications known to cause drowsiness
- A lack of skid marks on the road surface indicating a failure to brake
- Eyewitness accounts of a driver’s behavior prior to the accident
- Evidence proving how long a driver had been awake, such as work schedules, cell phone records, credit card purchases, or GPS data
- Social media posts detailing the driver’s activities leading up to the time of the collision
- A traffic reconstruction expert’s analysis of crash scene photos
- Records of work or school attendance that may indicate a pattern of exhaustion
- Dashcam or cell phone camera footage, when available
These are just a few examples of the evidence you might need to prove an accident was caused by a drowsy driver.
Why Is Drowsy Driving So Dangerous?
In almost every case, accidents caused by drowsy drivers are completely preventable. One bad decision to keep pushing through exhaustion can lead to severe repercussions.
Drowsy driving is comparable to drunk driving. One study found the physical and mental impact of staying awake for even just 18 hours can cause a person to experience the effects of a .08 BAC. In Kentucky, a .08 blood alcohol concentration is considered legally drunk.
The most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that approximately 50,000 people are injured, and nearly 800 people are killed annually in drowsy driving accidents.
Just like drinking and driving, drowsy driving impairs the vehicle operator’s vision, judgment, and focus. Drowsy drivers suffer symptoms such as:
- Inattention and lack of focus
- Poor decision-making capacity
- Blurred vision, burning eyes, and difficulty keeping eyes open
- Slowed reactions
- Risk of falling asleep at the wheel
What Causes Drowsy Driving?
There are many causes of drowsy driving. Your lawyer will work to prove what caused the at-fault driver to drive drowsy and how it impacted their ability to operate a vehicle safely. Driving drowsy is always a choice. Anyone has the ability to pull over and rest if they begin to feel drowsy.
Most drowsy driving accidents are caused by ignoring the signs of fatigue or sleepiness, and instead choosing to stay on the road. Driving alone and at night, especially on back roads with little lighting or traffic, are high risk factors in drowsy driving accidents. Drivers with at least one other person in the car are more likely to be kept awake by conversation. It’s also believed that many people carry a higher sense of responsibility for safety when another passenger is in the vehicle.
Prescription and illegal substances play a role in many drowsy driving collisions as well. When people don’t check the side effects of their medication, drink alcohol, or take illegal drugs with sedative properties, they increase their chances of falling asleep while driving.
Drivers Most Likely To Drive Drowsy
Drowsy driving is a form of negligence that can be committed by any type of person. There are, however, certain social and occupational factors that put some groups at higher risk of driving drowsy than others. People who fall into one or more of the following demographics need to practice extra caution to make sure they don’t drive impaired by exhaustion:
- Long-haul commercial truck drivers
- Nighttime delivery drivers
- People who suffer from sleep disorders
- Those who take medications that cause drowsiness
- Individuals working unusual hours or overtime hours
- Under-rested teen drivers
- People who consumed alcohol earlier in the day
- Those who drive alone, at night, and on rural roads
None of these are good reasons to drive drowsy. It only means these individuals need to take extra precautions to prevent drowsy driving. If you ever feel yourself growing sleepy while operating a vehicle, pull over and give your body time to rest. A 15-45 minute nap is recommended to recharge and refocus before you resume driving.
Find a Lawyer Who Knows Where To Look For Evidence
Proving an accident was caused by a drowsy driver takes experience and know-how. Not all Kentucky personal injury lawyers have the experience required to gather evidence that can fully support your claim to compensation. At the Law Office of Todd W. Burris, we know to look where others don’t.
We invite you to contact our office for a free case evaluation. At no cost to you, a qualified car accident lawyer will provide sound legal advice about your rights and options following an auto collision. Proving an accident was caused by drowsy driving isn’t impossible when you have the right legal representation.