Driver fatigue common cause of North Carolina car accidents

Sleep loss has been blamed for a massive, multi-vehicle 2009 Oklahoma pile-up that left 10 dead and numerous others injured. The accident stemmed from a tractor-trailer rig driver whose shift-work schedule disrupted his sleep pattern, the Joplin Globe reports.

Our North Carolina car accident lawyers know it isn’t just commercial drivers who are at greater risk of driver fatigue. According to a 2005 study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 168 million drivers – about 60 percent of the registered driving population – admit to driving while drowsy each year. Of those, 37 percent say they have fallen asleep while driving with one-third of those acknowledging it happens as often as once a month. In all, 11 million drivers own up to being involved in a car accident or near miss due to driver fatigue.
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It is now believed that fatigue plays are role in 10 to 30 percent of all traffic accidents, costing the U.S. economy $12.5 billion annually in lost wages, medical expenses, property damage and quality-of-life compensation. Annually, driver fatigue has been linked to about 100,000 traffic accidents, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities.

Studies have shown that being awake for 18 hours brings the same level of impairment as having a BAC level of .05; and being awake for 24 hours doubles that effect to .10. The legal limit for a driver to be charged with impairment is .08. Tired drivers tend to be more stressed, more impatient and are more likely to driver faster and make poor judgment calls while on the road. The bottom line is this: the less sleep a North Carolina driver gets, the more likely they are to be involved in a Carolina-area drowsy-driving car accident.

Younger drivers (aged 18 to 29) are far more likely than any other age group to drive while tired and men are more likely to drive while drowsy and fall asleep while driving than women. Of particular risk are adult drivers with children at home, shift-workers and those who regularly get six hours or less sleep per night.

In an effort to raise awareness and reach out to drivers nationwide, the NSF offers some detection and planning tips to help prevent drowsy driving and save lives. Among other things, they recommend drivers avoid alcohol and medication (prescribed or over-the-counter) if they are getting behind the wheel.

If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed or injured in a North Carolina car accident from Asheville to Charlotte to Gastonia to Shelby or anywhere in between, the attorneys with Lee & Smith, P.A. hope that if you are involved in a serious car accident you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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