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Drowsy Driving and Sleepy Driving Accident Lawyer | Slepkow Law

Staying alert and aware is the easiest way to stay alive when driving a vehicle across the nation’s and Rhode Island’s highways, roadways and city streets. Statistics maintained by the National Sleep Foundation indicate that more than 160 million Americans say they have felt drowsy when behind the wheel and more than 100 million individuals say they have actually fallen asleep while driving. Another 13 percent said they have nodded off at least once a month when operating their vehicle, where 11 million of those drivers suffered an accident or near accident due to dozing off or being too tired to continue driving. Drowsy driving, fatigued driving, tired driving and sleepy driving are a very serious public safety problem in our country.

Sleepy Driving Car Crash in RI

Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that driving while drowsy or sleepy is the direct cause of more than 72,000 crashes, 800 deaths and 44,000 injuries every year. Drowsy driving, exhausted driving and fatigued operation of a motor vehicle is a serious problem on U.S. highways, streets and roads, where more than three out of every four individuals drive a vehicle to and from work. In 2005, more than 100,000 reported accidents were directly associated with driver fatigue. This resulted in preventable deaths and injuries, and more than $12 billion in monetary damages. Additional facts surrounding drowsy driving include:

• Unlike a breathalyzer used to determine intoxication, there is no current test available to determine sleepiness while driving a vehicle.
• Police receive little or no training to identify drowsiness at a crash scene in Rhode Island. Many of the current codes  and laws are inconsistent or no specific traffic codes have been developed to monitor fatigue or falling asleep behind the wheel.
• Fatigue, exhaustion and drowsiness play crucial roles in  RI car accidents attributed to other factors including alcohol.

(If you were injured in a Providence auto accident or Rhode island rear end crash caused by drowsy, sleepy or fatigued driving (or a motorist falling asleep or nodding off at the wheel) then contact a RI auto accident lawyer or a Rhode Island personal injury attorney.

Those at Greatest Risk in Rhode Island

Sleep-related accidents tend to be most common in young individuals, especially males, shift workers and adults with children. According to a poll taken in 2012 by the National Sleep Foundation, key drowsy driving statistics revealed:

• Adults age 18 to 29 years old are most likely to drive while drowsy when compared to any other age group.
• Adults with children are more likely to operate a vehicle while drowsy compared to those individuals without children.
• Men have a higher propensity to drive drowsy compared to women and are twice as likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.
• Sleep deprivation is known to increase the potential of a drowsy-related accident meaning individuals that sleep less have a higher risk than those that are well rested.
• Shift workers have a higher propensity of being involved in a drowsy driving accident compared to individuals who maintain a routine daytime work schedule.
• Commercial drivers who operate buses, tractor trailers and tow trucks are more likely than passenger vehicle drivers to be involved in a driving drowsy accident.
• Motorists suffering from untreated sleep disorders including sleep apnea are at high risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident.
• Motorists on medications known to cause sleepiness are also at great risk.

Study show that individuals who typically sleep six hours or less every night or those who snore excessively have a greater chance of falling asleep when behind the wheel.

Drowsy Driving Warning Signs in Rhode Island

Motorists  in Rhode island(RI) who are aware of the warning signs of drowsy driving or tired driving can take preventative measures to get off and stay off the road until they are able to be more alert behind the wheel. The most common warning signs of drowsy driving include:

• Blinking or yawning frequently
• Missing the exit
• Difficulty remembering the last miles that were driven
• Driving over rumble strips along the roadway
• Drifting into another lane

By getting enough sleep, avoiding taking medications and drinking alcohol and developing good sleeping habits to maintain a good sleeping schedule are all effective solutions for decreasing the potential of driving while drowsy or falling asleep at the wheel.

If you were injured in a Rhode Island car, motor vehicle or truck crash then contact a RI car accident lawyer or Rhode Island personal injury lawyer. A RI personal injury attorney can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain and suffering and lost wages.

Driver fatigue accidents in Rhode Island- drowsy driving

Drowsy driving accident

On January 7th 2013, a nurse was involved in a serious multi-vehicle head-on accident while travelling southbound on South Main Street in Houston Texas. She was driving a Toyota Camry. The negligent nurse, who fell asleep at the wheel, and was at fault for the collision was on her way home after working an overnight 13 hour shift at a hospital.

Drowsy Driving

The crash was apparently caused by drowsy, sleepy driving because the at fault motorist fell asleep at the wheel.  This was apparent by a cursory review of police reports and emergency medical technician (EMT) records.  The drowsy driving conclusion was also evident by the tired driver’s numerous admissions at the scene of the wreck. These admissions were made to police, emergency workers and medical personnel dispatched to the scene of the head-on accident.

Falling asleep at the wheel

Despite overwhelming evidence of the motorist falling asleep at the wheel, for some reason the NTSB decided to investigate it. Predictably the NTSB concluded that this was in fact a tired overworked motorist dozing off at the wheel of her automobile.

In my opinion, this investigation was not really to determine what caused the auto wreck because the NTSB already knew what caused this deadly crash (operator fatigue and drowsiness). This was the NTSB making a statement and obtaining publicity about the dangers of tired and sleepy driving. The NTSB was also addressing the issue of American workers who work overnight shifts and how that may lead to deadly accidents.

Car crosses median

Sadly, “The Camry was in the left lane of a three-lane divided roadway when the vehicle drifted to the left and departed the lane, mounted the curb, crossed over a 17-foot-wide earthen median, and entered the northbound lanes.”   NTSB

The Camry crashed into a 2005 Lincoln LS passenger vehicle which was travelling northbound. The Lincoln was redirected and rear ended by a 2000 Toyota Avalon car. The Lincoln and Toyota travelled another 60 feet before coming to a stop. NTSB report Id.  For more information see: “HPD: Driver fell asleep before causing fatal crash”

AAA report

See: the AAA report “Asleep at the Wheel The Prevalence and Impact of Drowsy Driving” “A study using data from years 1989 through 1993 reported that that 0.9% of all police-reported crashes and 3.6% of fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver (Knipling & Wang, 1994).” AAA foundation

Sadly, the motorist driving the Lincoln was killed in the fatal, drowsy driving motor vehicle collision. It is unclear whether wrongful death litigation is being pursued as a result of the deadly wreck by personal injury lawyers in Texas.  In many cases wrongful death attorneys attempt to settle the cause of action before pursuing wrongful death litigation in Court. The drowsy and sleepy driving motorist was treated for injuries at a hospital. The operator of the Avalon was not injured in the automobile crash. All automobile motorists involved in the mishap were wearing seat belts at the time of the motor vehicle collision. NTSB

Driver lawyers UP

The Camry driver was interviewed by the NTSB and may have “lawyered up” by that time because she told the NTSB a far different story then she told emergency personnel on the day of the head on crash. It is not uncommon for Insurance Defense Injury lawyers and criminal defense attorneys to influence the testimony of a tortfeasor in an ongoing investigation.

NTSB takes statement

In a self-serving questionable statement, she told the NTSB “She described the loss of control event as moving slightly into the left lane and then steering back into the center lane. She did not know if there was a problem with her car, and she tried to apply the brakes but instead went into the opposing traffic lanes, where she collided with another car.”  NTSB

However, she told an EMT at the scene of the car wreck that she had ““dozed off and fallen asleep.” The police officer who investigated the multi vehicular collision reported that “that the Camry driver stated she did not know what happened until she woke up in the vehicle with the air bags deployed. The officer described her as being dazed, and she appeared and sounded as if she were groggy from being fatigued.” She told a different officer that she fell asleep. Id. Furthermore “In an interview with a Houston police drug recognition expert officer at the hospital, the driver stated that she was tired and dozed off.” iD.

Sleepy driving

The CDC reported that “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes (approximately 730 in 2009) and 2.0% of all crashes with nonfatal injuries (approximately 30,000 in 2009) involve drowsy driving”  “Fatalities and injuries are more likely in motor vehicle crashes that involve drowsy driving compared with non-drowsy driving crashes.” cdc

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled out distracted driving and texting while driving as cause of the vehicle accident because there was no proof she was using her cell phone or operating a GPS or smart phone. This was also not a drunk or drugged driving accident and prescription medications did not play a role. The hospital claimed that they allowed nurses to use a hospital rooms for naps or rest. Curiously, several workers were not aware of such rest rooms. But nurses did state “The other nurses commented that they had heard similar stories of employees sleeping in their vehicles prior to driving home.” id.

After a very extensive “investigation” the NTSB came to the obvious conclusion that police and emergency personnel already knew: “The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of his crash was the Toyota Camry driver’s failure to maintain directional control of her ehicle because of falling asleep. Contributing to the driver’s fatigue was her inverted work schedule and her extended time since waking” NTSB 

“Those engaged in “shift work,” or work outside the normal “day work” hours, are, therefore, operating in an unnatural temporal environment. Social interactions with friends and family members or at sporting and cultural events—and even common activities, such as shopping or watching television—are difficult when on a non-diurnal schedule. Changing to a normal schedule to accommodate these life activities, even for as little as a day, can completely erase any
adaptation to the shift work. However, many people do so because of their desire to
participate in the more regular activities of life.” Id.

If you were injured in a car accident in Rhode Island, please contact RI personal Injury Attorney David Slepkow