Drowsy driving is in the spotlight locally, as the Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney was recently asked by an attorney involved in the prosecution of a driver who killed four people in a serious car crash last year to pay for a sleep expert in the case. The expert is expected to testify about the defendant’s physical condition the night of the crash, and how severe fatigue could have been a factor in the crash.
If polls are to be believed, sixty percent of all drivers have gotten behind the wheel while feeling drowsy at some point in the past year. Yet, drowsy driving is not seen as a huge public safety issue like drunken driving and receives only a fraction of the attention given to DUI accidents. How big a problem is driver fatigue, really?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 100,000 police reported crashes are due to drowsy driving, and that estimate is thought to be conservative. NHTSA further believes that driver fatigue accounts for 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and losses of $12.5 billion every year.
In countries with more consistent crash reporting procedures than the United States, drowsy driving is estimated to account for 10 to 30 percent of all traffic crashes. If these numbers were true for the US as well, that would mean that in 2008 3,401 (10 percent) to 10,205 (30 percent) of the 34,017 traffic deaths nationwide could be attributed to driver fatigue. That is a massive number, and if true would mean that drowsy driving is a national crisis.
Why is it so difficult to determine how many accidents can be attributed to driver fatigue? There are several challenges. First, there is no easy way to determine that a driver is too impaired to drive, the way there is with alcohol intoxication. Second, states do not consistently record or report drowsy driving incidents – if they report them at all. Lastly, drivers themselves cannot be counted on to self-report fatigue as a contributing factor in a crash.
If you or someone you love has been badly hurt in a serious car crash and you suspect that the other driver was at fault, you might have an uphill battle ahead of you – especially if driver fatigue contributed to the crash. To have the best chance of securing fair compensation after a motor vehicle collision, please contact a skilled personal injury attorney like those at the Warrenton and Culpeper based law offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas. Please contact us today for help with your auto accident case.
DULANEY, LAUER & THOMAS, LLP
98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 11
Warrenton, VA 20186
Toll Free: 888.907.2631
209 N. West Street
Culpeper, VA 22701
Toll Free: 800.741.1012