man yawns while driving

Drowsy driving is a serious problem in Wyoming. Fatigue can cause poor judgment, slower reflexes, impaired motor skills, and blurry vision. Operating a car while drowsy endangers the safety and well-being of everyone on the road. Drowsy drivers should be held accountable when their negligence harms others.

If you were hurt in a car crash caused by a fatigued driver, contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers™, immediately. The at-fault driver could owe you compensation, and we want to help you demand the total amount you deserve. We offer free consultations and work on contingency, which means you won’t pay us unless we get you compensation first.

What Is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is the operation of a vehicle by someone who is too tired to do so safely. Getting or staying behind the wheel of a vehicle despite feeling exhausted is a risk too many people take each day. A lack of sleep, busy schedules, odd shifts, and long commutes are common factors in the decision to drive while drowsy. Unfortunately, doing so can have dire consequences.

A range of factors can contribute to drowsy driving, such as:

  • Inadequate sleep – Sleep deprivation is one of the most common reasons for daytime sleepiness. Low quality or a lack of sleep prevents the brain from getting the rest it needs to function properly and causes decreased coordination, concentration issues, and other mental impairments.
  • Time of day – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving crashes frequently happen in the late afternoon or between midnight and 6 a.m. These periods are when a person’s circadian rhythm naturally causes them to feel tired.
  • Alcohol consumption – Alcohol is a depressant and can cause drowsiness. It also affects decision-making skills, reaction time, and attention.
  • Medications – Certain medications, such as prescription drugs, dietary supplements, and over-the-counter medicines, cause drowsiness. The side effects can linger the following day, even if taken at night.
  • Sleeping disorders – Sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders interrupt or restrict the amount of sleep someone gets each night. Undiagnosed sleeping disorders can cause frequent daytime sleepiness and interfere with driving abilities.

How Drowsy Driving Causes Car Accidents

The dangers of drowsy driving are significant. Fatigue can cause microsleeps, which are short periods of sleep that last only a few seconds. When a driver lapses into microsleep while behind the wheel, their risk of crashing into another vehicle or running off the road increases exponentially.

Falling asleep isn’t the only risk associated with drowsy driving. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect a driver’s physical and mental faculties even if they never actually fall asleep at the wheel. Tired drivers can experience symptoms similar to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Drowsiness also prevents people from paying attention to and noticing their surroundings or concentrating on the task at hand, no matter how important. As a result, they might not recognize dangerous conditions and react to them appropriately.

What Are the Signs of Drowsy Driving?

The most common warning signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Inability to understand or notice traffic signs and signals
  • Yawning 
  • Rubbing eyes frequently
  • Missing exits
  • Following other cars too closely
  • Reduced motor skills
  • Loss of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor decision-making
  • Nodding off
  • Difficulty maintaining proper speed
  • Turning the radio up or rolling the windows down
  • Feeling restless
  • Blurry vision or double vision
  • Slow response to road hazards
  • Altered sensory perception
  • Hallucinating
  • Drifting into another lane or off the road
  • Inability to remember the last few miles

Compensation for Victims of Fatigued Driver Crashes

If a drowsy driver caused an accident that injured you, they could also be responsible for compensating you for any related losses. Typically, you can pursue this compensation through an insurance claim or a lawsuit.

Either option could recover money to compensate you for your:

  • Hospital bills, physical therapy, medications, and other medical costs
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Essential services, such as childcare, household assistance, and personal errands
  • Property damage

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

It’s up to everyone who uses the road to do their part and never drive while fatigued. With that in mind, anyone planning to drive should:

  • Take breaks – It’s crucial to set aside time to stretch, rest, and perhaps get a cup of coffee during long trips. 
  • Plan ahead for breaks – Create a schedule in advance to stop along the route, so you’re not forced to drive long stretches looking for a safe place to take a break. Driving for long hours can lead to fatigue, so it’s a good idea to break the trip into smaller periods of driving and rest.
  • Avoid alcohol – Avoiding alcohol, drugs, and other substances that impair driving abilities is critical. Even over-the-counter medications that cause drowsiness should not be taken before operating a car.
  • Get a good night’s sleep – A good night’s sleep is the best way to ensure your physical and mental abilities are at their peak.
  • Drive at the right times – Don’t drive during periods when the circadian rhythm causes increased sleepiness. If possible, avoid driving between 12 midnight and 6 a.m. or early afternoon.

Drowsy Driving Statistics in Cheyenne

According to statistics compiled by the National Safety Council, 6,400 people die in accidents involving drowsy driving every year across the U.S. A study estimates the annual number of drowsy driving crashes is around 328,000, or more than three times the number reported by law enforcement.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 25 drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel within the previous 30 days. Even more people admitted to driving despite being sleep-deprived.

Although drowsy driving affects everyone, drivers under 25 years old account for approximately half of drowsy driving accidents. Men are also more likely than women to drive while overly tired.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Cheyenne for Help

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers™, we help injured people seek the compensation and accountability they deserve. We focus on providing quality service to our clients and constantly working to achieve positive case results.

If you sustained injuries in a car accident caused by a fatigued driver, contact us now for a free consultation with a Cheyenne drowsy driving accident attorney. We are ready to advocate for your rights and seek the maximum compensation you deserve.