North Carolina drivers who operate a vehicle at any time while drowsy or sleepy dramatically increase their chances of being involved in an accident, according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drinking, use of sedative medications and age may all play roles in increasing the likelihood of a drowsy-driving accident. Young males, graveyard-shift workers and people with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may be at higher risk than the general population.
According to the NHTSA report, drowsiness is a predictable and preventable cause of car accident injuries. People who engage in behaviors such as drinking or taking certain medications before driving, driving long hours or miles without rest breaks or naps and who have known sleep disorders are more likely to be in single-vehicle, single-occupant accidents involving injury or death. There is no objective scientific test for determining sleepiness in drivers at this time.
Adequate sleep before driving and timing one’s trips to permit rest breaks or short naps between legs of the journey are optimal ways to bypass this problem. Ingestion of caffeine equivalent to the content of two cups of coffee serves as a temporary drowsy-driving countermeasure. Drivers who are familiar with and accommodate their sleep needs are less likely to have car accidents as a result.
An attorney representing an injured victim of a car accident that may have been caused by the negligence of another driver may consider what factors led to the crash, including whether the driver was intoxicated or not sufficiently well rested. If it can be determined that such driver is in fact responsible, damages that can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit could include medical expenses as well as compensation for lost wages.