Fatigue is a very real danger to anyone operating a vehicle, including pilots, boaters and motor vehicle drivers. People who work overnight shifts or long hours are especially vulnerable to being tired and falling asleep while driving. Statistically, fatigue-related crashes occur often during the early morning, mid-afternoon, or late at night.
Drowsy Driving is Hard to Prove
It may be difficult or impossible to attribute the cause of an accident to falling asleep at the wheel because motorists may not admit that they fell asleep. Some indicators or clues that a crash could be caused by a driver falling asleep at the wheel are:
- There were no other vehicle occupants besides the driver
- There was no evidence of the vehicle braking or swerving
- The driver drifted out of the lane before the accident or crossed a double yellow line into oncoming traffic
- The driver cannot remember what happened immediately prior to the accident
As an injury victim, in order to recover compensation, you will have to prove the at-fault driver was responsible for your injuries and caused the accident. If the other driver fell asleep, you will have to establish this, or at least, that the driver did not exercise care and prevent the collision that resulted in your injuries or a loved one’s death.
Falling asleep at the wheel is a form of negligence, as drivers owe a duty of reasonable care to other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The NHTSA estimates that about 700-800 fatal accidents each year are caused by a driver falling asleep at the wheel. A AAA Traffic Safety Foundation study revealed more than 1/3 (37%) of drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives.
Drowsy Truckers Pose A Bigger Problem
Trucking companies use eye-tracking technology to track eye and eyelid movement, measuring duration and frequency of blinking and sounding an alarm if eyes are closed for longer than expected. It can be more difficult to establish fatigue in an accident involving a motor vehicle, however, the law enforcement accident report, witness statements, and the driver’s own testimony can offer clues.
It may also be possible to subpoena the driver’s cell phone records, and driving record for the day of the accident to determine how long the driver had been driving prior to the crash, who they had been communicating, and if they had demonstrated signs of drowsiness prior to the accident.
To learn more about your rights following an East Providence car accident, contact Dana & Dana Attorneys at Law at (401) 217-3449. We offer a free case review and do not charge any fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.