The danger of driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy is something many people disregard. While the majority of New Jersey residents will know that drinking and driving is dangerous, many of them do not realize that driver fatigue is as dangerous. A major problem for the authorities is the difficulty to prove when an accident was caused by tiredness.
In the case of suspected drinking and driving accidents, the authorities have the benefit of tests, such as breath or blood tests, to help them prove that a person was driving while under the influence. No test exists to establish if an accident was caused by fatigue. Fortunately, a well-trained police official will be able to identify the clues at an accident scene pointing toward a driver who had fallen asleep. Clues such as fatal or serious injuries in a one-vehicle crash, an absence of skid marks and/or other evasive maneuvers can indicate that the driver of a vehicle was drowsy or had fallen asleep.
Drivers can become drowsy or sleepy for many different reasons. A driver can, for example, suffer from lack of sleep or a sleep disorder, or have worked for too long; even drinking alcohol when you are already tired can make someone sleepy while driving. Fatigue impairs a driver’s reaction time, slows down judgment and may even impair the driver’s vision. Fatigued drivers, like DUI drivers, may show signs of increased moodiness as well as aggressiveness, while having difficulty with processing information and displaying lower levels of performance.
Driver fatigue is dangerous, and legislation allowing criminal charges of negligence when a fatigued driver seriously injures or kills someone in an accident is considered by some states. However, civil claims can be filed against such drivers in New Jersey. The family of a deceased victim of an accident allegedly caused by a fatigued driver may decide to file a wrongful death claim. Seriously injured victims may file personal injury claims against an alleged fatigued driver. Damages awarded in successful claims cannot change what has happened, but it may ease the family’s financial burdens.
Source: drowsydriving.org, “Facts“, Oct. 20, 2014
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