If you are a parent of a young person, you have likely spent a lot of time discussing with your child the dangers of drinking and driving. This is particularly important as they go off to college where the opportunity to drink and party is often abundant. But one driving behavior that isn’t as popular and often not even addressed is the dangers of drowsy driving; however, this is fast becoming a serious issue. There are approximately 300,000 crashes caused each year by drowsy or fatigued driving.
Unfortunately, as a recent study found, the result is that many college students do not consider drowsy driving to be a risky driving behavior and in fact consider it normal.
Researchers interviewed students from the University of Washington about their driving habits and their perceptions regarding dangerous driving behaviors. The majority of those students participating in the focus group considered themselves safe drivers. They expressed their opinions about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substance and they voiced their opinions about the dangers of distracted driving.
But many of these students had accepted driving while fatigued as an “unavoidable part of life” and admitted to driving drowsy. Many of these students had actually been involved in a drowsy driving crash, either as the driver or as a passenger.
Another study conducted earlier last year also surveyed college students about drowsy driving. In that study, 70 percent of participants had admitted to drowsy driving. Forty percent had done so within the year prior to the study and 30 percent as recent as the month prior.
Discussions about preventing fatigued driving accidents with students revealed that many felt that education is needed, especially since so many of them were unaware of how deadly driving while fatigued can be. Suggestions of public awareness campaigns on billboards and social media were made by students. They said that materials which showed the different stages of sleep deprivation and how each stage could impact driving would be a good way to get the message out and educate young drivers.
Drowsy Driving Accidents
Only two states – New Jersey and Arkansas – currently have specific laws that criminalize fatigued driving. But it can still be difficult to prove. Unlike drunk driving, where police can use a breathalyzer to prove a person is unfit for driving, there is no type of test to show a person is sleep deprived. Unfortunately, this leaves to far too many drowsy driving accidents.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was fatigued, contact a North Carolina car accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Under the North Carolina tort laws, you may be able to pursue damages for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and any other losses the injuries have caused you.