According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration drowsy drivers are responsible for about 100,000 motor vehicle accidents a year, causing 71,000 injuries and 1,500 fatalities per annum. There are many laws and media campaigns dealing with the dangers of driving under the influence and driving while talking or texting on a cell phone.
The dangers of driving while sleep deprived have only recently come into focus with new state laws being proposed and passed across the country. In fact, under New Jersey’s vehicular homicide law (New Jersey Statues §2C:11-5) a person who falls asleep while driving or who operates a motor vehicle without sleep for 24 hours is deemed to be driving recklessly. This is the same assumption made about an intoxicated driver.
The issue of sleep deprived drivers is becoming more common with today’s fast paced economy, more two income earning households and longer work days. There are also many common prescription and over the counter drugs that have a side effect of causing drowsiness. However, driving while drowsy poses much of the same risk to other drivers as driving while intoxicated does. A driver needs to be alert enough to respond to changing road and traffic conditions. The danger of falling asleep at the wheel is obvious. These dangers apply to all types of drivers but a common example of a sleep deprived driver is the commercial truck driver who drives through the night.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, or a driver who fell asleep at the wheel, you should make sure this is noted by the responding police officer in the police accident report. You should also contact a knowledgeable car accident attorney with the resources and the experience to represent victims of car accidents caused by reckless driving.