Personal Injury Lawyers, Gilbert, AZ

What Makes Fatigued Driving Dangerous?

The Fourth 'D' - Drowsiness Alongside Drunk, Distracted, and Drugged Driving

Drowsy driving is not merely a concern; it's an escalating epidemic, with statistics revealing a dangerous reality. In recent years, the toll has been grim, claiming the lives of hundreds of individuals annually due to drowsy driving car accidents.

Yet, shockingly, recent surveys by AAA suggest that these figures underestimate the true extent of the problem, with drowsy driving fatalities potentially being 10 times higher than reported in fatal crashes, according to researchers. If AAA is right—and safety advocates seem to think they are—in an average year, there are over 300,000 drowsy driving crashes, including over 100,000 injuries and up to 6,840 deaths nationwide.

Drowsy driving kills — but it is preventable. Our experienced car accident lawyers at Browne Law Group in Gilbert, AZ, explain what makes fatigued driving so dangerous and why it’s important to seek legal help if you were hit and injured by a tired driver.

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What is drowsy driving?

Drowsy driving occurs when someone who is exhausted gets behind the wheel. Tiredness is typically due to insufficient sleep, sleep disorders, medications, alcohol, and working nights. This level of fatigue impairs attention, reaction time, and decision-making.

In many ways, tired drivers are just as dangerous as drunk or high drivers. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the fourth “D” among the most dangerous negligent driving types – drugged, distracted, and drunk. They put everyone on the road at significant risk even if they don't nod off – which happens a lot. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, 1 in 25 adult drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the previous 30 days.

Arizona drowsy driving statistics

While drowsy driving may be difficult to document in a police report, some information is available to illuminate the local situation. In a typical year, Arizona experiences more than 15 fatal drowsy driving accidents, according to federal data. Here are some more statistics about accidents that happen when Arizona drivers are too tired behind the wheel:

  • Almost 1 in 4 fatal drowsy driving accidents in Arizona involve a rollover.
  • Fatigued driver accidents most frequently occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or late afternoon.
  • About one-third of drowsy drivers in fatal crashes had at least some alcohol in their system.
  • Men account for the majority of drowsy driving deaths.
  • In Arizona, the most common crash configurations in a fatal drowsy driving accident are head-on and rear-end collisions.
  • The city with the highest number of drowsy driving accidents in Arizona is Tucson, which reports twice as many fatal fatigued driving crashes as Phoenix. Other cities where multiple deadly drowsy driving accidents have occurred include Mesa and Casa Grande.

Drowsy driving is almost always a choice. Drivers who cause car accidents due to fatigue are negligent and accountable to the people they injure.

Why and how fatigued driving happens

Driving while tired can happen for a lot of reasons. One common scenario is when someone has a long day at work or school and feels compelled to drive home despite feeling exhausted. Another situation arises when individuals must travel long distances for work or personal reasons or feel business or social pressure to be somewhere. Here are some more common factors that contribute to driving fatigued:

  • Insufficient sleep. A general lack of sleep, with adults requiring 7 to 9 hours on average, contributes to drowsiness and impaired driving ability.
  • New medications. Starting new medications can lead to unexpected drowsiness, especially during night driving, emphasizing the need to test medications' effects before driving.
  • Alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption not only has legal and physical consequences but also induces drowsiness, compounding the risks associated with impaired driving.
  • Sleep disorders. With millions of Americans contending with sleep disorders, it's important to be well-rested before driving.

Whether a driver is drowsy because they were at a party or work doesn’t change the severity of the crash or who is liable. Distracted driving victims are entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other related damages.

What is it about drowsy driving that makes it dangerous?

Some individuals may underestimate the dangers of drowsy driving or overestimate their ability to stay alert behind the wheel. They may believe that rolling down the windows, turning up the radio, or drinking coffee will help them stay awake, unaware of the limited effectiveness of these methods in reversing fatigue. The typical consequences of a drowsy driving accident prove why this type of crash must be taken seriously. Here are some other attributes that make drowsy driving dangerous:

  • Speed. Drowsy drivers often don’t realize they are about to crash until it is too late to hit the brakes or take evasive action. The faster a vehicle travels, the more severe the injuries are in a crash.
  • Similarities to drunk driving. Drowsy driving shares characteristics with drunk driving, including blurred vision, slowed reactions, and impaired decision-making, contributing to its danger.
  • Universal risk. While more common in long-distance drivers, drowsiness can affect anyone, regardless of experience or distance traveled.
  • Missed warning signs. Even experienced drivers may overlook signs of drowsiness—yawning, blinking more, and head nodding—increasing the likelihood of accidents.

If experiencing blurred vision, nodding off, or losing control of the vehicle, a driver should find a safe place to pull over and rest as soon as possible.

What is the most common type of injury in a drowsy driving accident?

In Arizona, drowsy driving accidents tend to result in serious injuries. They range in severity depends on factors such as the speed of the vehicles involved, the use of seat belts and airbags, and the overall health of the crash victims. The most common injuries associated with drowsy driving accidents include:

  • Whiplash and neck injuries. Sudden jerking movements, such as those that happen in a rear-end accident, can result in whiplash and other neck injuries.
  • Head injuries. Impact with the steering wheel, dashboard, or other objects in the vehicle, like what can happen in a head-on crash, can lead to head injuries ranging from concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Back injuries. The force of a collision may cause back injuries such as strains, sprains, or herniated discs.
  • Broken bones. High-speed collisions can result in fractures or breaks in various bones, including arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis.
  • Internal injuries. Blunt force trauma from the accident can cause internal injuries such as organ damage, internal bleeding, or punctured lungs.
  • Soft tissue injuries. The impact of the accident often causes bruising, lacerations, and contusions to soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Byron Browne holds negligent drivers accountable

If you've been injured or a loved one died in an Arizona drowsy driving accident, don't delay seeking legal help. Contact Browne Law Group in Gilbert, AZ, to schedule a free case evaluation. We know how confusing and stressful it can be after getting injured in an accident, so we're here to provide you with the information you need to find your way forward. No nonsense, no B.S.—just straight talk and a commitment to fighting for the maximum compensation you deserve.

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