Driver Fatigue & Drowsiness – An Avoidable Danger

It takes only a split second of inattention to cause a serious car accident. Many times, the lapse of attention is the result of driver fatigue, also referred to as “drowsy driving.” When a driver is too drowsy to be behind the wheel, the resulting collision can cause physical, emotional and financial devastation for the victims of the crash. The South Carolina drowsy driving accident attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm, P.A., are committed to protecting the rights of car crash victims and their families.

Under South Carolina law, the person who is responsible for causing a car accident can be held responsible for the losses related to the crash. Nodding off or falling asleep behind the wheel could be considered a form of negligence that could result in liability. A South Carolina auto accident lawyer at the Louthian Law Firm can help you to impose this responsibility.

Our Columbia accident attorneys handle cases in communities all across South Carolina. If a drowsy driver has caused you to be involved in a vehicle accident in Columbia, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Sumter, Charleston, Greenville or elsewhere in the Palmetto State, contact our lawyers today for a free, confidential claim review. There are time limits you need to be aware of and we can help walk you through the process. Don’t delay. Call (803) 454-1200 to put 80 years of experience to work on your case, around the clock.

How Common Is Fatigued Driving in South Carolina?

Fatigued driving can refer to a driver who is nodding off at the wheel or who has completely fallen asleep while driving. A tired driver can even experience a microsleep in which part of the brain is awake and part is asleep. Anytime someone is paying less than complete attention to the roadway because he or she is tired or drowsy, that driver is driving while fatigued.

Fatigued driving is a much bigger problem on the nation’s roads than most people realize. South Carolina is no exception to this general rule. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll to determine how prevalent fatigued driving is across the country. A shocking one-third of adult drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving during the previous year, and another 60 percent admitted to driving while feeling drowsy. Four percent admitted to either having an accident or almost having an accident as a result of driving while drowsy during the previous year.

The Dangers of Fatigued Driving

Not only is fatigued driving a relatively common occurrence, but it is an extremely dangerous one as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 100,000 collisions each year can be blamed on fatigued driving., causing about 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Figures released by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety indicate that in 2012, fatigue played a role in 4 fatal accidents in our state and caused 342 injuries. Additionally, there were 385 drowsy driving accidents which caused only property damage.

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash doubles when the driver has had only six to seven hours of sleep instead of the optimal eight hours. The risk of crashing goes up four to five times when a driver is operating on only five hours of sleep.

Another study, conducted by an Australian organization, compared fatigued driving to alcohol-impaired driving. The study found that a driver who has been awake for 18 hours straight has an impairment equivalent to someone with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent. At 24 hours without sleep, a driver’s impairment is equal to a BAC of 0.10 — well above the legal limit. Whether the sleep-deprived driver is a trucker trying to meet a delivery deadline or a family headed to the beach for a summer vacation, a motorist who pushes on beyond the limits of safety is as dangerous on the road as a drunk driver.

Fatigued driving can also cause dangerous secondary effects. Respondents in the National Sleep Foundation poll admitted that when they are tired, they exhibit behaviors that can lead to risky travel: 42 percent of them become stressed, 32 percent become impatient, and 12 percent tend to drive faster than when they are rested.

Contributing Factors

In addition to just getting an inadequate number of hours of shut-eye, a number of other things can cause a driver to become drowsy while behind the wheel:

  • Side effects of prescription or over-the-counter medication
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Driving on long stretches of rural roads
  • Driving at night or early morning
  • Not switching drivers when possible
  • Not stopping to rest every two hours or 100 miles.

Injured by a Drowsy Driver in South Carolina? The Louthian Law Firm Can Help

When a driver is impaired — whether by drugs, alcohol or fatigue — getting on the highway is a form of negligence. Drowsy driving accidents can be prevented when the driver simply makes the smart choice not to push on despite the signs of fatigue. Victims of negligent drivers can seek compensation through the courts. If you were a passenger in a vehicle that crashed because its driver nodded off, you could be entitled to compensation, even though no other cars were involved. The Louthian Law Firm can help your family seek truth and secure justice from a South Carolina drowsy driver.

If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important to make sure that you understand your legal rights. South Carolina law on car wrecks is complex, and the deadline for filing a claim can be short. You should speak to the Louthian Law Firm as soon as you think you may need a South Carolina car accident lawyer. Our fight for what’s right starts the moment we meet — and it never stops. We’ve been committed to providing personalized service to accident victims since 1959. Importantly, because we know how financially devastating an accident can be, we never charge you a dime until your case is won.

For a free evaluation of your case, call us today toll free at (803) 454-1200. You can also fill out our online contact form.