According to information from the Department of Energy, the average vehicle on the roads in the U.S. is just over two tons. That means each vehicle on the road is approximately 4,000 pounds of metal, gasoline and rubber speeding down the road. In the best circumstances, operating a vehicle is the most dangerous thing that the average person does each day. However, if a person gets behind the wheel drowsy, the danger the pose to themselves, and others, increases drastically.
The Under Reporting of Drowsy Driving Accidents
The NHTSA recently reported that even though it is difficult to identify drowsy driving as the cause of an accident in many situations, approximately 40,000 people suffer an injury every year because of this problem, while up to 1,550 are killed.
However, the NHTSA has cautioned that drowsy driving may be a bigger problem than what the existing evidence shows. In fact, the agency has reported that drowsy driving is a car crash cause that is under reported and that crashes caused by this problem don’t include driver inattention, which can also occur because of drivers who are overly tired or who fall asleep behind the wheel.
Testing and Reporting in Drowsy Driving Accidents
A big issue related to accidents resulting from drowsy drivers is that there aren’t effective tests in place to determine if this was the cause. With drunk driving, for example, there is a testing procedure that is able to be used that can identify when someone is intoxicated. This is not possible with drowsy driving.
Also, there aren’t any standard reporting practices between states in regard to drowsy driving. Even though most state accident statistics include cases of fatigued or drowsy drivers, police are typically not trained to identify a driver who is fatigued. Missouri is one of the two states in the United States that does not have any codes that address drivers that wind up falling asleep behind the wheel or who cause an accident because they were drowsy or fatigued.
Preventing Drowsy Driving
In order to help relieve the issues associated with drowsy driving, drivers on the road have to know signs of fatigue and avoid getting behind the wheel. While this may not always identifiable, it is usually detectable. If you feel too tired to drive, don’t get behind the wheel. You are putting yourself and others on the road at risk.
If you are involved in an accident with someone who is drowsy or fatigued behind the wheel and you suffer injuries, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. It is best to hire an attorney to help you with this, as the law can be confusing.