Up to 9.5% of all auto accidents are due to drowsy driving according to a 2018 AAA study. This is a startling departure from government reports in the past, which estimated that between 1% and 2% of crashes are caused by drowsiness. The figure 9.5% is high when Montana residents consider that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is to blame for 5% of all crashes.
Drowsy driving is an underreported phenomenon because police do not have any unerring way to detect it. In the absence of witnesses or special camera footage, drivers involved in a crash can easily lie about how tired they were. More than half of all drowsy driving crashes occur in the dark.
However, there are new technologies that can help prevent drowsy driving accidents, including automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning systems. These can take over for drivers in applying the brakes and keeping a car in its lane, respectively, when drivers fail to react in time to a safety hazard.
The best way to avoid drowsy driving, of course, is to get adequate sleep. Seven hours is the recommended minimum. If drowsy drivers can switch places with a passenger, they should do so. After two hours of driving, taking a break is wise.
As suggested above, it can be hard to prove that drowsiness is behind motor vehicle accidents. This can create complications for victims who wish to file a third-party insurance claim. With a lawyer, victims may be able to build up a case and achieve a fair settlement covering their medical expenses, the income they lost during their physical recovery and other damages. The lawyer might hire crash investigators for the crucial job of gathering evidence against the drowsy driver.