Fatigue can significantly affect a driver’s ability to remain alert, make safe driving judgments, and react quickly to prevent accidents. Thousands of people sustain severe or fatal injuries every year as a result of drowsy driving accidents.

If you were injured in a collision caused by a drowsy driver in Houston, the trusted car accident attorneys at the law firm of Goldenzweig Law Group, PLLC, can help. Our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience representing injured clients in Houston and surrounding areas of Texas. We know what it takes to help you seek the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact us today to discuss the details of your case during a free consultation with a Houston car accident attorney.

What Is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving involves operating a motor vehicle while dangerously impaired by fatigue. Although it’s easy to imagine the hazards of falling asleep at the wheel, many people don’t realize that drowsiness can be dangerous even when drivers manage to stay awake. That is mainly because the effects of severe drowsiness can prevent drivers from adequately gauging how their fatigue is affecting their driving ability.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that drowsy driving is comparable to drunk driving. Research has demonstrated that:

  • The effects of staying awake for 18 hours are similar to the effects of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent.
  • The effects of staying awake for 24 hours are similar to the effects of a BAC of 0.10 percent, which exceeds the legal limit in all 50 states.

 Why Someone Might Drive While Sleepy in Houston, TX

Drowsy driving can occur when someone is running on a sleep deficit, experiencing the effects of certain substances, or simply exhausted from sustained activity. Houston drivers may be sleepy on the road because:

  • They just worked a night shift. Drivers who work late-night or overnight shifts may be fatigued from a hard day of labor, making them less attentive and less likely to react in time to avoid devastating collisions.
  • They are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol, illicit drugs, and even legal medications can leave drivers dangerously drowsy and significantly increase the likelihood of serious accidents.
  • They have an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy can prevent people from achieving deep, restful sleep. Over time, chronic sleep deficiencies can sap drivers’ attention span, judgment, and reaction time, raising the risk of drowsy driving accidents.
  • They are an older driver. Older drivers are not necessarily more prone to drowsiness. However, the safe driving skills of many drivers diminish as they age, and tiredness can exacerbate existing cognitive impairments.
  • They are driving a long distance. Long hours of monotony and boredom on the road can test the endurance of even the most responsible drivers, increasing the chances of nodding off behind the wheel and causing drowsy driving wrecks.
  • They are driving during their regular sleeping hours. When we are awake during our usual sleep time, it strains our minds and bodies in ways that make it difficult to remain alert and drive safely.

Proving Liability for a Fatigued Driving Crash in Houston

Although drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving, no chemical test can prove someone was dangerously fatigued. However, an overly drowsy driver is still a negligent driver. To demonstrate that the other driver was at fault in your car accident claim, your attorney may use the following types of evidence:

  • Police accident report
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Testimony from expert witnesses
  • Work schedules or driving records
  • Medical care and medication history 

What to Do If You Become Drowsy While Driving

There’s nothing wrong with becoming drowsy while driving. The important thing is how you react to protect yourself and other road users. If you feel yourself getting fatigued on the road, you should:

  • Pull over and stop at a safe location as soon as possible.
  • Take a nap for at least 20 minutes or until you feel mentally refreshed.
  • Avoid caffeine and other artificial stimulants, which can make it more difficult to accurately gauge your level of alertness and result in a mental “crash.”
  • Do your best to improve your sleep hygiene by sleeping consistently, eating well, and getting plenty of exercise.

Drowsy Driving Statistics in Houston

Recent studies have suggested that drowsy driving is a serious problem in Texas. Crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) show 22 percent of all drowsy driving accidents nationwide occurred on Texas roadways in a recent eight-year period.

During that time, 7,392 people were killed in drowsy driving accidents, 1,734 of which were in Texas. In fact, the rate of drowsy driving accident fatalities on Texas’ busiest roadways was more than 10 times higher than the national average.

Compensation for Victims of Fatigued Driver Crashes

If you suffered serious injuries in a Houston car crash involving a fatigued driver, you could be entitled to compensation from the insurance company for the at-fault driver for:

  • Medical bills for treatment of car accident injuries
  • Lost wages from missed time at work
  • Lost future earning potential from injuries that prevent you from returning to work
  • Pain, suffering, and losses in quality of life
  • Incidental expenses such as costs of travel to and from medical appointments and rental car expenses
  • Repair or replacement costs for vehicle damage caused by the accident

Families who have lost someone in an auto accident related to driver fatigue may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim under Texas law.

How Driving While Drowsy Causes Houston Car Accidents

According to the Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving frequently leads to car accidents in Houston because drowsiness can

  • Increase the risk of microsleeps – Microsleep occurs when a tired person dozes off very briefly, often for just a few seconds. When microsleeps or “long blinks” happen behind the wheel, drivers can easily drift into neighboring lanes or run into other vehicles in front of them.
  • Cause driving impairments – Even when drowsy drivers stay awake, excessive fatigue can lead to dangerous impairments in safe driving abilities such as reaction time, spatial awareness, visual acuity, and judgment.
  • Increase the risk of nodding off – In severe cases, drowsy drivers may nod off completely, leading to complete loss of control and catastrophic accidents.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Houston for Help

Don’t count on the insurance adjuster to do the right thing in your car accident case. You need an experienced car accident attorney who will fight for injury victims as they seek a financial recovery.

At Goldenzweig Law Group, PLLC, our Houston car accident attorneys have the resources and experience to make a real difference in your personal injury lawsuit. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in a free consultation.