Unlike with alcohol, there is no method of determining whether a traffic accident is the direct result of drowsiness or driver fatigue. All states, with the exception of Missouri and Wisconsin, have some method of allowing responding police officers to identify driver fatigue or drowsiness on standard accident report forms. However, most police officers are given little or no training in identifying driver drowsiness. Notations and codes used by police officers are based on officers’ best judgment at the time. Their assessments are often unreliable and inconsistent. As such, accidents that are fatigue or drowsiness based may be incorrectly documented as caused by some other means, such as driving under the influence.
Data indicates that there are more than 100,000 accidents each year as a result of fatigued or drowsy drivers. While there is no foolproof method of determining whether an accident is the result of drowsiness, there are some peculiarities that are characteristic of drivers who are known to have been in a collision caused by driver drowsiness. If an accident involves a single vehicle, with a lone driver, and his or her injuries are severe or fatal, the accident is likely to be classified as due to drowsiness. Likewise, if there are no skid marks or other signs of maneuvering to indicate that a driver was attempting to avoid a collision, the accident is most likely to be classified as due to drowsiness.
In many cases, drowsy driving is just as hazardous as drunk driving. Both alcohol and drowsiness can cause impaired judgment and slow reaction times, which increase the likelihood of having an accident. Study data indicates that being awake for 18 hours results in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is the legal limit for drunk driving. Some states are considering legislation that would provide for drivers to be charged with criminal negligence if they injure or kill someone while driving drowsy.
Certain demographics have been identified as most likely to drive drowsy. They include, commercial drivers, shift workers, persons with sleep disorders and young men between the ages of 18 and 29. Even without explicit legislation, drowsy drivers still face punishment for their negligence under the law. Some drowsy drivers have had hefty fines and prison sentences imposed against them. In some cases, multimillion dollar lawsuits have been filed against individuals and businesses that employ drowsy drivers.
As always our goal and desire is to keep you and your family as safe on the road ad possible while on the road. However, If you are involved in a collision, let New Look Collision Centers’ expert auto body technicians and mechanics service your vehicle in our state of the art diagnostic and repair facility.