Many Hoosiers are tired, overworked, and exhausted. They finish a long, busy day and then get in their vehicles and drive home. Fatigued driving is dangerous and is often the root cause of severe accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is the cause of about 700 fatalities annually.
The actual number of people killed in drowsy driving crashes is probably much higher since they are not as easy to pinpoint as drunk driving or other common causes of motor vehicle accidents. The personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, though, are skilled at investigating drowsy driving crashes and proving driver negligence.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed due to a drowsy driver, contact an Indianapolis car accident attorney today. Schedule a free consultation by calling (317) 526-1440 or submitting the online evaluation form. With our virtual and at-home visits, we can get started on your case in as little as 30 minutes after signing.
How Dangerous is Driving Drowsy?
According to an annual report from the NHTSA, there were 91,000 police-reported car accidents involving drowsy drivers. In addition to the risk of a driver falling asleep at the wheel, drowsiness affects a driver’s judgment, attention, coordination, decision making, vision, and reaction time.
If a person is extremely tired, he or she may begin to microsleep, or doze off for just a few seconds at a time. When this happens behind the wheel, it’s very easy for a driver to run off the road or collide with another vehicle.
Even if a person has not completely fallen asleep while driving, studies show that sleep deprivation results in mental impairment that is similar to being intoxicated. Researchers found that 24 hours of sleep deprivation is equivalent to a driver having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.1 percent.
Indianapolis, Indiana Driver Fatigue Risk Groups
Since all of us require a certain amount of rest every day, anyone can become sleepy while behind the wheel. However, there are certain groups that have an increased risk of falling asleep or drowsy driving. This might include:
- Shift workers
- Young drivers
- People with undiagnosed sleeping disorders
- Commercial truck drivers
- People who use sedating medications
- Business workers
Drowsiness and fatigue can occur at any time during the day. In fact, statistics show that sleep-related crashes commonly occur between midnight and 6 a.m., or late in the afternoon. At these times of day, people experience drops in their circadian rhythm – our internal clock that regulates sleep.
Drowsy driving accidents also typically involve single-passenger vehicles and often occur on rural roads or highways.
Driver Fatigue and Commercial Truck Accidents
One group especially at risk for drowsy driving accidents is truck drivers. Indianapolis truck drivers may travel thousands of miles every week, working long hours with demanding schedules. It’s easy to see why truck driver fatigue is the leading cause of commercial truck accidents.
Trucking companies often require that their drivers deliver cargo within an unreasonable amount of time, forcing them to forgo needed breaks and sleep to meet their deadlines. The government has put restrictions in place regulating how long a truck driver can go without sleep or rest, but Indiana truck drivers and the companies that employ them are sometimes both guilty of disobeying these laws.
Commercial truck drivers can become fatigued even if they do follow these rules. People fall asleep best if they go to bed at approximately the same time each night, but the schedule that the truck drivers keep usually does not allow them to follow a regular sleep pattern.
Since drowsy truck drivers pose such a great risk, some commercial truck manufacturers have designed a safety system to monitor when a driver begins to become sleepy. The system detects head nodding, inattention to the road, yawning, eye closing, and other indicators that the truck driver is sleepy.
When these signs are detected, it sends out a warning to the truck driver. The seat may vibrate and bells go off, waking the driver up and alerting him or her to take a break.
Driver facing cameras can also be implemented in the truck drivers cab to start recording when triggered by an event such as hard braking or driver fatigue. Click here to read more about driver facing cameras.
Drowsy truck drivers are not only at risk of harming themselves; they are a danger to everyone who shares the road with them. If you or someone you love was involved in a truck accident in Indianapolis, schedule a free case consultation with an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer at Hensley Legal Group today to learn your legal options.
Signs of Fatigue and Drowsy Driving
One way to avoid drowsy driving is to be alert to the signs of fatigue. The following are some common signs it’s time to find a spot to pull over and rest:
- Constant yawning
- Loss of concentration
- Lane drifting
- Frequent blinking
- Missing your exit
- Hitting a rumble strip
- Variations of driving speed
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
How Can an Attorney Prove a Driver Was Fatigued After an Accident?
In order to recover financial damages after an Indianapolis motor vehicle accident, you must prove driver negligence. If you believe that the driver was impaired by driving drowsy, you’ll need to provide strong evidence to prove your case. A personal injury lawyer from Hensley Legal Group can help you gather evidence, research the cause of the accident, file a claim, and recover the compensation you deserve.
Your Indianapolis drowsy driving accident lawyer may discover evidence such as:
- Evidence from the accident scene: If a driver is asleep behind the wheel, he or she won’t brake before a crash, so a lack of skid marks could provide evidence that the driver was sleeping when the crash occurred.
- Witness statements: Other drivers or pedestrians may have witnessed the drowsy driver’s actions. They may have noted the truck swerving, drifting into other lanes, or tailgating. In addition, coworkers or others who know the driver firsthand may be able to provide details as to his or her habits and sleeping patterns.
- Information from the EDR: Most commercial trucks are equipped with an event data recorder or “black box” that will provide information of the events leading up to the truck accident, such as the truck driver’s speed braking. The GPS will also help chart the driver’s route and schedule, showing how long he or she went without sleep. Your attorney can file a request for the information from the EDR to be presented as evidence.
- Medical records: A driver’s medical records can indicate whether he or she has been prescribed medications that cause drowsiness or suffers from sleep disorders that cause fatigue, such as sleep apnea.
Seeking Compensation After an Accident With an Indianapolis Drowsy Driver
Under Indiana state law, auto accident victims injured due to the negligence of others are entitled to pursue compensation for the full value of their losses. Unfortunately, obtaining the compensation you need and deserve is not always easy. Insurance companies may deny claims for a host of reasons or offer you a payout that is far less than what your claim is truly worth.
The personal injury lawyers at Hensley Legal Group in Indiana have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies. When we take on your case, we will fight to win you a just and fair settlement.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your auto accident, we may help you recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term disability or impairment
- Loss of enjoyment
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages
Contact Hensley Legal Group Today
The award-winning attorneys at Hensley Legal Group have over 20 years of experience helping car accident victims in Indianapolis and throughout the State of Indiana. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a crash with a drowsy driver, our law firm is here to help.
When drivers engage in dangerous behaviors that put others at risk, we firmly believe that they should be held accountable for their actions. Our compassionate legal team cares about our clients and is eager to make a difference in their lives. The personal injury lawyers at our law firm know how to gather needed evidence, clearly present the facts of your case, and design a case strategy to protect your best interests.
Hensley Legal Group offers all potential clients a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We offer our legal services on a contingency basis, which means that you pay absolutely nothing out of pocket. Schedule your free consultation with an Indiana personal injury lawyer today. Call our Indianapolis office at (317) 526-1440, start a live chat, or submit the online evaluation form.