Drowsy Driving

Like texting or drinking and driving, operating a motorized vehicle while drowsy or fatigued can lead to serious consequences, including permanent injury, death and big financial expenses. Drowsiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases the risk of crashing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police reported crashes each year are caused primarily by drowsy driving and that such crashes result in more than 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

Consider the following accident that was reported as a claim a few years ago:

At 3:45 p.m. on a sunny afternoon in July, a farmer was driving his pickup truck eastbound on a two-lane rural highway. The farmer was extremely tired following a long day of work and a late night the evening before. 

The next thing he remembered was a vehicle “smoking its brakes.” But it was too late. The farmer had dozed off and veered into the other lane and oncoming traffic. Neither the farmer nor the driver of the other vehicle were able to avoid colliding with each other.

The farmer hit the driver’s side of the other vehicle killing the driver upon impact. The driver was a young man in his late 20’s who was gainfully employed. He left behind a wife and two young children.

Following the accident, the family of the deceased hired an attorney to represent them. A wrongful death claim settled in excess of $2 million.   

Warning signs

This accident, like countless others, may have been avoided if the farmer had heeded the warning signs that someone is too tired to drive:

  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing signs or exits
  • Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive
  • Turning up the radio or rolling down the window

If you experience any of the above warning signs, you are encouraged to pull over immediately at a safe place, switch drivers or take a short nap until you are safe to continue. And you better act fast—a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. 

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