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Too Tired to Drive in Texas

Fatigue impairs drivers and increases the risk of a crash

One of the most common types of dangerous driving behavior is also among the least recognizable by drivers and the people around them. We’re talking about drowsy driving. This is when a driver is so fatigued their senses, reaction time, and motor skills become impaired.

AAA estimates that up to 21 percent of fatal crashes are likely to involve a drowsy driver. However, studies show that incidents are underreported, and drivers have difficulty judging when they are too exhausted to get behind the wheel. Also, social and work pressures may compel some fatigued drivers to stay on the road instead of getting the rest they need to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Our Houston car accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler, Attorneys At Law know how to handle these accidents. That’s because our attorneys have more than 30 years of legal experience in Texas. We’re familiar with the challenges often involved with these crashes. We know what questions to ask and how to build a strong and effective legal case. That’s our secret to success – we go above and beyond in pursuit of justice.

How fatigue affects drivers

Fatigue profoundly impacts drivers, mimicking the hazards posed by drunk, distracted, and drugged driving. It compromises every aspect of driving competence, posing a grave risk to road safety. Research indicates that roughly 21 hours of wakefulness can yield driving performance impairments akin to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%.

Crash risk increases the less sleep a driver gets, according to AAA:

  • 6-7 hours of sleep increases crash risk 1.3 times
  • 5-6 hours of sleep ups the risk 1.9 times
  • 4-3 hours of sleep increases crash risk 4.3 times
  • Less than 4 hours of sleep increases a driver’s crash risk by 11.5 times

Drowsy drivers are dangerous because they are not in total control of their actions or motor vehicle. Here are just a few types of bad driving behavior that can result from drowsy driving:

  • Tracking and speed variability. Fatigue disrupts a driver’s ability to maintain a steady course and consistent speed. Variability in tracking and speed increases, making the vehicle’s movement less predictable.
  • Steering errors and lane drifting. As fatigue sets in, drivers are more prone to making steering errors and veering into adjacent lanes. This tendency escalates over prolonged periods of driving.
  • Visual impairment. Fatigue compromises visual accuracy by up to 32%, diminishing the driver’s ability to perceive the road clearly. Peripheral vision shrinks, reducing awareness of surrounding hazards.
  • Impaired judgment. Extended driving hours elevate the likelihood of risky behaviors, such as attempting hazardous passing or misjudging traffic situations. Judgment deteriorates significantly, especially towards the end of lengthy drives.

Recognizing and resting when fatigued is important to reduce accidents and safeguarding lives on the road.

Texas drowsy driving statistics

In a typical year, Texas experiences more than 200 fatal drowsy driving accidents, according to federal data. Here are some more statistics about accidents that happen when Texas drivers are too tired behind the wheel:

  • Head-on collisions and rear-end accidents are the most common crash configurations in drowsy driving accidents where more than one vehicle is involved – accounting for about 40 percent of drowsy driving accidents in Texas.
  • More than 35 percent of fatal drowsy driving accidents in Texas involve large trucks, like semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, garbage trucks, and other types of large commercial vehicles
  • The majority of drowsy driver accidents – 73 percent – happen when the driver was heading straight.
  • In Harris County, Sam Houston Tollway and Gulf Freeway intersection by Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base is a hotspot for fatal accidents involving drowsy drivers. Other fatigued driver crash hotspots in the area include I-10 in Brookshire and Sealy.

Drivers asleep at the wheel often don’t slow down before the collision. In fact, they may inadvertently accelerate before the crash. Drowsy driving accidents often result in very serious injuries, including fatalities in certain circumstances.

Common types of drowsy driving crashes and injuries

Injuries are common in drowsy driving accidents. While the severity of injuries can vary depending on factors such as the speed, type of collision, and whether occupants were wearing seat belts, drowsy driving accidents often result in bodily damage. Injuries often associated with Texas drowsy driving accidents include:

  • Whiplash and neck injuries. Victims in the other car may experience whiplash and neck injuries due to the sudden impact from being struck by a drowsy driver. The force of the collision can cause rapid back-and-forth movement of the head and neck.
  • Spinal cord Injuries. High-impact collisions with drowsy drivers can cause severe trauma to the spine of victims in the other car, potentially leading to SCIs and paralysis.
  • Broken bones and fractures. Victims in the other vehicle may suffer broken bones and fractures as a result of the force of impact from a collision with a drowsy driver.
  • Soft tissue injuries. The sudden deceleration or impact from a collision with a drowsy driver can cause victims in the other car to experience soft tissue injuries such as bruises, strains, and sprains.
  • Internal injuries. Severe collisions with drowsy drivers can lead to victims in the other vehicle sustaining internal injuries such as organ damage or internal bleeding.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Victims in the other car may suffer traumatic brain injuries from impacts with hard surfaces or objects during a collision with a drowsy driver.
  • Cuts and lacerations. Debris from the collision or broken glass may cause victims in the other vehicle to suffer cuts and lacerations.
  • Death. In the most severe cases, collisions with drowsy drivers can result in fatalities for victims in the other vehicle due to the high impact and potential for catastrophic injuries.

How to prove the other driver was asleep at the wheel

The reality is many asleep at the wheel car accidents in Texas turn out to be very complicated legal cases. Proving that someone was too tired to drive and that it was their exhaustion that caused the accident often relies on a driver’s self-evaluation or the observations of others. Sometimes, important evidence like dashcam footage and braking data can help establish fatigued driving. However, hard evidence of fatigue is no good to an injured drowsy driving accident victim if they don’t know how to leverage it. That’s where an experienced Houston drowsy driving accident lawyer can help.

At Smith & Hassler, Attorneys at Law our attorneys have experience successfully handling drowsy driver crashes and asleep at the wheel truck accidents. We gather evidence, carefully review accident reports and medical records, interview witnesses and if needed, consult experts. We know how to prove a drowsy driver was responsible for what happened. If you were injured in an accident with a drowsy driver, contact us for a free case evaluation. A member of our team can explain your rights, legal options, and case value.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, “Too Tired to Drive in Texas.”

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