Fort Worth, TX asleep at the wheel accident attorney explains what you need to know
Drivers need to stay awake and alert at all times on the road. Otherwise, they can end up causing a drowsy driving car accident. All it takes is a split second for a driver to close their eyes and cause a car crash. And when they do, the consequences can be catastrophic.
But how common are drowsy driving accidents? What are the best ways to avoid them? And what should you do if a tired driver or someone asleep at the wheel causes your crash? Fort Worth car accident attorney Coby L. Wooten can answer your questions and explain all the legal options available to you.
How common is drowsy driving?
The dangers of falling asleep at the wheel or even simply nodding off for a few seconds are well documented. Each year, drowsy driving kills an estimated 800 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And in a single year, more than 91,000 car accidents involve drowsy drivers, the NHTSA reports.
To understand just how dangerous drowsy driving can be, consider this – getting one hour less of sleep (6 hours instead of 7 hours) doubles the likelihood of a driver causing a car accident, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
"If you have not slept seven or more hours in a given 24-hour period, you really shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car,” Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA, said in an interview with NPR News.
What are ways to avoid falling asleep at the wheel?
So what are some of the best ways to avoid falling asleep at the wheel and not causing a collision? Some of the best suggestions include:
- Make sure you get enough sleep, especially if you are going on a long road trip the next day.
Avoid drinking alcohol before driving, especially on a long road trip. Even a small amount of alcohol can make you tired.
- Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. You may be very tired at this time or encounter other drowsy drivers on the road.
- If you feel tired at any time on the road, stop at the next exit or nearest rest stop and take a 15-minute break to relax and assess whether you’re alert enough to drive. If you still feel tired, don’t drive.
- If you still feel tired on the road, consider taking a short, 20-minute long nap in a safe place, particularly at a rest stop.
Driving safety experts warn that having a cup of coffee or another caffeinated drink may not be enough to keep you awake on the road. Tired drivers who drink coffee still sometimes briefly lose consciousness behind the wheel. And they do, that means they may be driving with their eyes closed often at high speeds for a great distance.
What should I do if a drowsy driver caused my car accident?
If a drowsy driver caused your car accident, you should take the following steps for your health and well-being and to protect your rights:
- Call the police and tell them you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a drowsy driver.
- Ask the police to respond to your accident.
- Ask the police to send an ambulance to your accident.
- Get the driver’s name, address, phone number and insurance information.
- Feel free to provide the same information to the other driver.
- Don’t discuss your accident with the other driver.
- Take pictures of your accident scene if possible.
- If someone saw your accident, get the witness’ full name and phone number.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.
How much is my drowsy driving accident claim worth?
There’s no set dollar amount when it comes to car accidents caused by drowsy drivers. Some are worth a few thousand dollars. Others may be worth millions. Like other accidents, the difference often comes down to how much all your accident-related expenses add up to, now and in the future. Such expenses often include:
- Vehicle replacement or repair costs
- Any ambulance fees
- Emergency medical care
- Diagnostic medical testing
- Physical therapy
- Replacement income during your recovery
- Lost future income if you cannot return to work
- Pain and suffering in certain circumstances
To learn more about how a lawyer can help you after your drowsy driving car accident, contact our law firm and schedule your free case evaluation with experienced, Fort Worth car accident attorney Coby L. Wooten.