Austin Personal Injury Blog

Preventable Pain: The Prevalence of Driver Fatigue

Posted By The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC || 16-Jul-2015

Many Travis County drivers may have experienced fatigue while driving as a result of personal expectations, like the desire to reach a destination earlier than planned. Employers can be responsible for driving tiredness when companies force employees to work extended shifts.

An insurance executive, quoted in a National Public Radio report, stated oil and gas companies filed two dozen fatal accident claims with Texas Mutual Insurance in the first half of 2014. A significant number of those insurance claims involved employees who worked long hours in oil and gas fields before falling asleep behind the wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiles statistics on drowsy driving accidents. The federal agency estimated driver tiredness was a factor in up to 2.6 percent of all traffic fatalities -- more than 1,000 deaths nationwide -- between 2005 and 2009. Approximately 37,000 injury accidents during the period were linked to drivers who crashed while drowsy or asleep. The percentage of fatal fatigue-related accidents varied widely by state from zero percent to 9.4 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that tired drivers are dangerous drivers. Sleepiness affects judgment, reaction time and attentiveness. In a 2009-2010 behavioral study, CDC researchers learned 4.2 percent of 150,000 adults had fallen asleep while driving in the 30 days prior to the government survey.

These horrifying statistics indicate drivers are pushing themselves to stay awake at times when they should sleep. Fatigued driving may be caused by sleep deprivation, medications and unknown or untreated sleep disorders. The drowsiest drivers operate the biggest vehicles on the road – commercial vehicle drivers.

Signs of fatigue are clear. Injury car accidents and fatalities caused by drowsiness are preventable.

Victims of these crashes, including surviving family members, can turn to Texas civil courts to pursue damages. Personal injury lawyers in Austin can help plaintiffs gather evidence to show a sleepy defendant acted negligently or recklessly by failing to rest.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "Drowsy Driving," accessed July 16, 2015

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