Authorities estimate about 6,000 fatal accidents nationwide each year, including in Massachusetts, are linked to drowsy driving. However, they admit that the number could be underestimated because many drowsy driver-related vehicle accidents are never identified as such. Regardless of the exact figure, there is a significant increase in drivers admitting that they are often sleepy while driving.
Drowsy driving often causes microsleeps, which happens when drivers fall asleep for only a few seconds. However, a few seconds are enough to cause serious accidents, often with catastrophic consequences. It takes no more than a few seconds to veer off the roadway and roll over or cross the centerline and collide with other vehicles. Researchers say the mental impairment caused by fatigue is comparable with .10% blood alcohol content.
What are the causes of drowsy driving?
A variety of circumstances could lead to fatigue and drowsy driving, including the following:
- Lack of sleep: Sleep deprivation causes daytime sleepiness and an increased risk of microsleeps.
- Sleep disorders: Conditions like sleep apnea are often not diagnosed, increasing the risk of drowsy driving.
- Medications: Prescription and over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, and sleep aids cause sleepiness.
- Alcohol: Along with drowsiness, alcohol can impair decision-making and reaction time.
- Time of day: The body’s natural rhythm slows the system down to rest for a few hours after midnight and midday.
These are all preventable, underscoring the fact that many fatalities in vehicle accidents can be avoided. The civil justice system of Massachusetts provides a platform for car accident victims to pursue financial relief. However, the plaintiff in such a complaint must show the court that the defendant’s negligence caused the damages.
As mentioned, proving drowsy driving might be challenging, but help is available. A successfully navigated lawsuit could lead to a monetary judgment to cover financial and emotional damages. Similarly, deceased crash victims’ surviving family members could pursue financial relief by filing wrongful death claims.