According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 60 percent of U.S. adults admit to driving while feeling drowsy and one-third of people have actually fallen asleep behind the wheel. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that drowsy driving accounts for thousands of car accident deaths and injuries each year.
The statistics for Hawaii are particularly disturbing. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of nearly 150,000 drivers across 19 states ranked Hawaii second for drowsy drivers, coming in just behind California. Six percent of Hawaii drivers reported nodding off while driving.
A motorist who drives while feeling tired can be held liable if he or she causes a drowsy driving crash that harms someone else. But Hawaii’s no-fault insurance laws can make getting full and fair compensation a challenge. Save yourself from all the headaches and heartaches. Call or contact Attorney Glenn T. Honda at Recovery Law Center for a free consultation.
How Dangerous Is Driving While Tired?
Driving while fatigued is often compared to drunk driving because it affects the body similarly. Like alcohol, being tired can reduce a person’s reaction time, awareness, judgment, and coordination — all skills that are essential for safe driving. If he or she dozes off behind the wheel, the consequences can be life-changing.
A study conducted by the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety concluded that drowsiness is a factor in as many as 10 percent of all accidents across the country and may be responsible for as many as 21 percent of all fatal traffic collisions.
In addition, AAA found that getting less than seven hours of sleep significantly increases the chances that a person will be involved in a motor vehicle accident. But nearly one third of Americans get six hours of sleep per night or less, according to a recent survey in the journal Sleep. That means we’re surrounded by many, many fatigued drivers every day.
Getting only five to six hours of sleep can double a driver’s chances of causing a car accident. It’s also the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) just above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The degree of impairment worsens as sleep deprivation increases. For example, driving on less than four hours of sleep makes the risk of a crash as much as 11.5 times higher, equivalent to a driver with a BAC of .12 to .15 percent.
Drowsy Driving Accident Investigations in Honolulu
Determining whether a car accident was caused by a drowsy driver can often prove difficult. In some cases, a drowsy driver may appear noticeably fatigued at the accident scene or may even admit to falling asleep.
However, more frequently the shock of an accident causes an adrenaline rush that will make a fatigued driver seem alert. In these cases, victims of a drowsy driving accident will often need to rely on other evidence to help prove that a driver was fatigued behind the wheel, such as:
- Video footage showing the at-fault driver nodding off before the collision
- Testimony from witnesses who observed the driver’s erratic behavior immediately before the crash, such as drifting in and out of lanes or across road lines, driving below the speed limit, or gradually slowing down only to speed back up again
- Lack of skid marks, which shows that a driver failed to brake before a collision
- Employment/school schedule records, cell phone and GPS data, social media posts, or credit/debit card transactions indicating that the driver was awake for an extended period of time before the crash
- The at-fault driver’s prescription records that show use of medications which can cause drowsiness
In most cases, much of the evidence in a drowsy driving case is in the possession or control of the alleged at-fault driver. This often makes it necessary to go to court to obtain orders directing disclosure of the information so that it can be reviewed for evidence. An experienced lawyer will know how to obtain these records and collect evidence before it is lost, destroyed, or erased.
How to Avoid Driving While Fatigued
The best way to avoid driving while fatigued is simple: Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re tired. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. We all have schedules, and we’re all expected to be in certain places at certain times. The next best method to avoid drowsy driving is getting a full night’s rest.
Factors identified by the CDC as contributing to drowsy driving include insufficient sleep, sleeping an average of fewer than six hours per night, and snoring. As a result, a person can help avoid driving while fatigued by:
- Setting and sticking to a regular sleep schedule designed to provide at least seven hours of sleep per night
- Avoiding caffeinated or alcoholic beverages prior to bed
- Avoiding watching television or using a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone while in bed
- Consulting with a physician or a sleep specialist to rule out sleep apnea or sleep disturbances that can diminish the quality of his or her sleep
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident that you believe was caused by a drowsy driver, you need to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. A car accident attorney can begin an investigation into your crash to recover evidence that will support your claim that the at-fault driver was fatigued at the time of the wreck.
However, the longer you wait to speak with a lawyer about your accident, the greater the chance that critical evidence may be misplaced or lost. Securing certain types of evidence, such as cell phone records, may require sending preservation letters and obtaining court orders. This isn’t something that you should try to handle on your own, especially while you are healing from your injuries.
Acting quickly is also important because you will want to give a lawyer as much time as possible to investigate the case and build an effective claim for compensation. In Hawaii, you have two years from the date of your accident if you wish to file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, the court will likely dismiss the case.
Finally, contacting a lawyer promptly will allow the attorney to advise you on what you should be doing to help protect your legal rights to compensation. For example, an attorney can speak with the insurance companies for you so that you can avoid saying something that accidentally damages your case.
A drowsy driving accident lawyer can also help ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated by researching how cases similar to yours have settled in the past. Keep in mind that others’ results do not guarantee you the same outcomes. However, they can give your lawyer a sense of what your case is worth.
Finally, a lawyer can provide other tips to help you protect yourself and your rights, such as avoiding talking about your accident or your injuries on social media.
An Experienced Honolulu Drowsy Driving Lawyer Can Help You Today
If you were hurt by a drowsy driver on Oahu, you have the right to file a claim for compensation against the at-fault driver. Schedule a free consultation with a Honolulu car accident lawyer from Recovery Law Center to talk about your rights and options.
There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by contacting our law firm. Call or contact us right away to get started.