This weekend I saw the Richard Gere movie Arbitrage. In one terrifying scene, Gere’s character, a hard-charging business tycoon caught up in a money-laundering ponzi scheme, falls asleep at the wheel while driving his mistress to a romantic cottage in the woods. He loses control of his Mercedes, causing it to flip over several times, breaking the young woman’s neck.
As a personal injury lawyer in Miami, I have personally investigated dozens of traffic accidents that involve drowsy drivers who have caused serious car, motorcycle, and bicycle crashes. The National Highway Safety Administration reports that over 100,000 accidents a year are caused by drowsy drivers, resulting in nearly 1550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and billions of dollars of property damage–and those are the figures only for the accidents that are actually reported. Para leer en español haga clic aquí.
NATIONAL DROWSY DRIVING PREVENTION WEEK NOVEMBER 3-10, 2013
Our Florida car accident lawyers are proud to support the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the National Sleep Foundation “National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.” Fatigue driving is far more common than I had thought; according to the National Sleep Foundation, most American drivers admit to having actually fallen asleep at the wheel within the past year alone.
Fatigue driving, unlike driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is a risk that every driver potentially faces–because all human beings require sleep. The problem is that many drivers have trouble knowing when and if they are about to fall asleep. The typical fatigue-related car accident in Florida occurs when a driver feels suddenly overwhelmed by sleepiness but convinces himself that he can force himself to stay awake–and continues to drive, putting both himself and others in great danger.
Interestingly, studies show that people with mild to moderate untreated sleep disorders perform worse behind the wheel than those with a 0.06% blood-alcohol content. In other words, poor sleep can cause one to drive worse than a drunk driver.
WHO IS AT THE GREATEST RISK FOR FATIGUE CAR ACCIDENTS?
Drowsydriving.org has identified specific groups that are at the risk for fatigue-related traffic accidents:
1. Young males under the age of 26.
2. Night-shift workers, who face a six-times greater risk than day-shift workers.
3. People who work more than 60 hours a week (including attorneys).
4. Commercial drivers, such as taxi drivers and long-haul heavy truck operators.
5. People with undiagnosed or untreated sleeping disorders.
6. Jet-lagged business travelers.
HOW TO AVOID A CAR ACCIDENT CAUSED BY A SLEEPY DRIVER
The obvious solution is simply to get more sleep. However, the reality is that most people simply do not have that option because of busy work, school, and family demands. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to recognize the typical signs of an impending sleep-related accident and pull over at the first available and safe rest stop, coffee shop, or gas station.
1. Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open and head up.
2. Non-stop yawning.
3. Blurred vision and rubbing your eyes repeatedly.
4. Drifting out of your lane, tailgating, or missing an exit ramp.
5. Feeling restless, irritable, or aggressive,
6. Turning up the radio loud.
7. Rolling down all the windows.
8. Slower reaction time.
9. Micro sleep–literally falling asleep for milliseconds and then waking up.
If you have been involved in a car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle accident in Florida, contact the experienced and competent attorneys at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers today for a free, no-risk legal consultation. Allow us to help you understand the confusing maze of insurance claims for lost time from work, medical reimbursements, and money for your pain and suffering. Our offices are available 24/7 by telephone: 305-441-0440, toll free: 1-866-597-4529, or by email.