In 2017, Indiana had 1,572 car accidents caused by fatigued driving. While 4 were fatal, 381 of them caused injury, and 1,187 caused property damage. It’s common knowledge that if you are impaired by drugs or alcohol you should never get behind the wheel, but clearly drowsy driving is a serious issue. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 2017, 795 people died in car accidents related to fatigued driving. How many people are falling asleep on the road right now? What do you need to know about driving while tired in order to keep you and your loved ones safe?
How Common is Driving while Tired?
Tired driving is a massive concern for public safety and unfortunately a common occurrence. The AAA Foundation reports that if you get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, you double your chances at getting in a car accident. The Sleep Association says that 35.5% of adults get less than 7 hours of sleep a night which means that there is a huge percentage of people on the road who shouldn’t be. In an article published in the ITE Journal it is stated that driving in these conditions is akin to driving while intoxicated. The study goes on to report that nearly 30% of drivers admit to fighting sleep while behind the wheel within a 30-day period. Shockingly, 4% of people admit to actually falling asleep while driving during that same period.
Since Indiana is in the middle of the country, it has a higher than average amount of semi-truck traffic (which will continue to grow in the foreseeable future). Because of the nature of long-distance hauling, that industry is a breeding ground for fatigued drivers. 13% of semi-truck crashes are caused by driver fatigue.
National Laws About Fatigued Driving
Indiana is the 8th sleepiest state in the country, which means there are plenty of tired drivers out there. Unfortunately, it is difficult for law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver is sleepy if they are pulled over, as adrenaline usually kicks in making the driver appear to be more awake than they are. For this reason, enforcing drowsy driving laws can be tricky, but some states are trying by putting sleepy driver laws on their books.
- In Arkansas, fatigued driving is considered negligent homicide. A driver can be charged if they are involved in a fatal car accident and have not slept in the last 24 hours, or were asleep at the wheel within the last 24 hours.
- Florida and Texas have both declared drowsy driving prevention weeks. Transportation departments like the Department of Highway Safety are encouraged to teach citizens and law enforcement about the dangers of drowsy driving, as well as ways to avoid it.
- In Utah, the Department of Transportation has commissioned studies on which roads are prone to sleepy driving accidents. They placed signage to warn against drowsy driving and direct drivers to a designated sleeping area so they may pull over to rest.
- Nationally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict rules that prevent semi-truck drivers from driving while tired, such as a maximum 11-hour consecutive drive time which can only be done after a mandatory 10-hour break. Truck drivers are also not allowed to drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
Driving while tired results in vehicle damage, injury, and death. Unfortunately, driving while drowsy is still common on our roads and highways and it’s hard to know when other drivers are falling asleep.
If you are in an accident and suspect that the other driver was falling asleep at the wheel, you may have a case. At Cline Farrell Christie & Lee we’re here to be your advocate and listen to your concerns. We will work tirelessly to get you fair compensation for any injury incurred from an accident involving drowsy and careless driving. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of Indiana’s top car accident attorneys.