Is Drowsy Driving On The Rise In South Florida?

About eleven million motorists in the United States, according to the National Sleep Foundation, admit that they have dozed off momentarily while driving.

Are you at risk of being injured – or worse – by a “drowsy” driver here in south Florida? Keep reading for a brief discussion of:

1. the facts about drowsy drivers
2. some tips to help you avoid drowsy driving accidents
3. your rights if you are injured in an accident with a drowsy driver in South Florida and how a Palm Beach County car accident law firm can help.

In the 21st century, Wal-Marts, ATMs, cable TV, and the internet all provide 24/7/365 access, and here in the U.S., we are getting less sleep than ever. That means the driver next to you might be fatigued – or even asleep.

WHAT HAVE RESEARCHERS LEARNED ABOUT DROWSY DRIVING?

Drowsy driving is quite difficult to detect, but some new research recently conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety used dashcam video from over seven hundred traffic collisions to study the relationship between drowsiness and driving ability.

The Foundation’s 2018 safety study is probably the most in-depth research and analysis ever conducted on drowsy driving.

By analyzing the video evidence, the researchers learned that drowsy driving is far more common and far more dangerous than we had previously suspected.

Drowsy driving may cause up to eight times as many traffic accidents as researchers had previously estimated.

HOW WAS THE AAA RESEARCH CONDUCTED?

Researchers studied the faces of more than seven hundred drivers in the three minutes immediately before a collision. According to the AAA researchers, 9.5 percent of all vehicle crashes involve drowsiness.

Prior to this most recent research, the presumption was that drowsiness is a factor in no more than one or two percent of the nation’s traffic accidents.

A less-surprising additional finding was that drowsiness is three times more likely to be a factor in nighttime accidents than in accidents that happen in the daylight.

HOW DOES DROWSINESS AFFECT YOUR DRIVING ABILITY?

Drowsiness reduces your ability to drive safely because it:

1. delays your reaction time
2. impairs your vision
3. impairs your judgment
4. impairs your short-term memory
5. reduces your awareness
6. may cause you to nod off

In general, the AAA research tells us that drowsy driving is probably far more dangerous than most of us think it is. A fatigued driver has reduced vision and needs more reaction time to process information.

Drowsy driving absolutely has to be avoided.

WHO DRIVES WHILE DROWSY?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that these groups include the individuals who are the most likely to drive while drowsy:

1. males under the age of 25
2. alcohol and drug abusers
3. motorists who don’t use safety belts
4. motorists who have sleep disorders
5. motorists who routinely sleep less than five hours a night

ARE THERE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO AVOID DROWSY DRIVING?

Drowsy drivers are dangerous drivers, but you do not have to be one of them. Here are some suggestions for avoiding drowsy driving and the dangers that accompany it:

1. Don’t drive if you have not slept for at least eight hours in the previous 24-hour period.

2. Don’t drive if you are fatigued.

3. During the hours you would normally sleep, don’t drive. Your body’s “clock” is accustomed to associating those particular hours with sleeping.

4. Don’t drive if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine that affects you physically. Review medication labels for warnings about driving, and discuss with your doctor the effect on your driving ability of any prescription drugs you use.

5. Take breaks and naps on long-distance drives. Some people need to pull over and take a brief jog, or exercise a little, to increase their energy. Others take a nap. Whatever it is that you do to stay energized, be ready to do it if the drive is going to be a long one.

6. Take a passenger with you. For longer drives, take a passenger if you can – someone who can help you stay focused and who can take a turn behind the wheel if you get tired.

If you are injured in a south Florida traffic collision, and if you believe that the other driver was drowsy behind the wheel, speak to an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney regarding your rights and options – which may include a personal injury lawsuit.

Drowsy drivers put everyone who’s on the road – including you and your family – at genuine risk.

WHAT IS FLORIDA’S 14-DAY RULE?

If you are injured in a traffic collision in Florida, the state’s 14-day rule will apply.

Even if you don’t feel injured, it is imperative to have a medical exam within 14 days after any traffic accident in Florida.

If you do not obtain medical care within the 14-day window, you will not be allowed to use your PIP (personal injury protection) insurance coverage if you’ve sustained a latent or hard-to-detect injury that is discovered later.

Florida is not like other states. Unless an injury victim in Florida suffers what state law defines as an “emergency medical condition,” an injury victim will probably be limited by law to $2,500 of PIP insurance compensation – and that’s if the victim complied with the 14-day rule.

If you believe your injury is an “emergency medical condition,” a good injury attorney can fight aggressively for your rights and for the compensation and justice you need. Some injury victims in Florida qualify to file personal injury lawsuits. Others don’t.

HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?

But if a drowsy driver severely hurts you, and even if you comply with the 14-day rule, you may need more compensation – much more. Victims who sustain spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and other permanent or disabling injuries will need every available dollar of compensation.

Whether you are a Florida resident or a visitor, if you are injured by a drowsy or negligent driver, you will need to understand that the no-fault insurance system, the state’s 14-day rule, and the state’s $2,500 rule make traffic crashes in Florida, unlike collisions that happen anywhere else.

After an accident with a drowsy driver, the wisest move is to seek medical attention at once, and then contact an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney immediately for the sound legal advice and aggressive representation that you will need if you’ve been injured.