Did you know that driving when you are overly fatigued can be similar to driving while intoxicated? Studies have indicated that overly fatigued drivers have caused thousands of accidents across the country. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations research on drowsy driving; drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.
If you have suffered a serious injury or if a loved one has been killed in a car accident because a driver was overly fatigued, you may be entitled to compensation. Compensation typically attempts to make you whole by awarding money for damages. Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak can work to obtain compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of services, damage to property and other losses.
Arkansas Laws on Fatigued Driving
In 2013, Arkansas amended its statute on Negligent Homicide to include a charge for when a driver is driving while fatigued. Under the amended law which was subsequently enacted into law a person can be charged with and convicted of negligent homicide if he or she negligently causes the death of another person, as a result of operating a vehicle, an aircraft, or a watercraft.
Arkansas Code § 5-10-105 was amended to include a section pertaining to drivers who were driving while fatigued. Under the amended statute section (D) was added to include fatigued which is defined under the bill as “having been without sleep for a period of twenty-four consecutive hours, or having been without sleep for a period of twenty-four consecutive hours and in the state of being asleep” See Arkansas § 5-10-105.
Under this statute a person who commits negligent homicide could be convicted of a class B Felony. Under Arkansas laws, a person who is convicted of a class B felony can be sentenced to a stay in prison of anywhere between 5 and twenty years and be fined up to $15,000.
Drowsy Driving is Similar to Driving While Intoxicated
Many reputable sources have issued reports and medical findings equating driving while fatigued to driving while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. Notably, it should stand out that Arkansas Senate Bill SB 874 which was amended to include fatigued driving as a basis for charging a person with negligent homicide also includes a section for drivers who drive under the influence of alcohol.
In the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers studied 679 people who were hospitalized because of a car accident in Southwest France. In their findings, the study showed there was no difference between driving sleepy or drunk. Both doubled the risk of causing a car accident.
The researchers wrote:
In conclusion, the main factors associated with being responsible for a crash resulting in serious injury were younger age and driving cars, but more important were alcohol ingestion and sleepiness at the wheel, which are synergic.
While some may point out that driving in France is much different than driving in the United States, there are numerous studies here in the United States which all point to the same conclusion. According to a widely cited report issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
The results of the study have important implications for educational efforts to reduce drowsy driving. Drivers must be educated to recognize the symptoms of drowsiness and the necessity of stopping driving once they recognize these symptoms in themselves. They must be convinced that driving drowsy is as dangerous and “wrong” as driving drunk.
Further reports indicate that being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood content (BAC) of 0.05%. At this level of impairment, a person will experience minor impairment of both judgment and memory, as well as demonstrate less concern for caution. In addition, in the study, “Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment” researchers found that being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%. Drivers should note that having a BAC at this level is illegal in every state in the nation, including Arkansas. At this level of impairment, a person will be significantly impaired. They will demonstrate a marked impairment of motor coordination, balance, and self-control. In addition, drivers who have this level of blood alcohol content, will display an obvious drop in vision and hearing.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Now that studies have clearly indicated that driving while fatigued is similar to driving while intoxicated it is important to learn to identify the signs of drowsy driving and how to prevent it. Part of the problem with drowsy driving or driving while you are fatigued is that we are not sure when exactly the body falls asleep, and therefore it is impossible to tell when a driver is fatigued, and when they are on the verge of falling asleep behind the wheel. While you may not be able to prevent other drivers from driving when they are too tired, you can contribute to making Arkansas roads safer by avoiding it yourself. In addition, if you are in the car with another driver you may want to pay attention to any one of these behaviors as they may indicate that they are fatigued. Some of the warning signs of drowsy driving include:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles on the road
- Missing exits, turns, and traffic signals
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road.
When you notice these signs in your own driving behavior or notice them in your vehicle’s driver, pull over and take a nap. It is not worth the risk of being in an accident. While every person may experience moments of fatigued or drowsy driving, it is best to engage in healthy practices to avoid this dangerous state. To prevent drowsy driving you should attempt to:
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
- Controlling any known sleep disorders through treatment and medication
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medications that have known side effects causing sleepiness
By engaging in healthy practices to prevent drowsy driving as well as noticing when you are experiencing fatigue, you can help prevent accidents on the road. However, if you have been in an accident because another driver was driving while they were overly fatigued, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
In a Car Accident Caused by a Drowsy or Fatigued Driver? Contact a Fayetteville Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident because of a fatigued or impaired driver, contact one of our experienced car accident attorneys today. Call Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438 or contact our firm online for your free and confidential consultation.