Very few Washington drivers realize what a great threat drowsy driving has become. Even as a car accident attorney and Washington personal injury lawyer, the statistics regarding drivers with fatigue come as shock to me. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately 100,000 police-reported auto accidents every year that happen because of drowsy drivers. These accidents result in an estimated 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. Drowsy driving is an example of negligence. Research indicates that not getting any sleep for 17 hours has a similar effect of driving with a blood alcohol content of .05.
A car accident resulting in serious injuries was caused by a drowsy driver early Wednesday morning, February 2nd. 37-year-old Gregory Myers was driving a 1999 Geo Metro on Interstate 82 just six miles south of Yakima when he began to lose consciousness. As he fell asleep behind the wheel, the small passenger vehicle rear-ended the trailer of a semi-truck. The collision smashed the Metro while doing little damage to the semi. The driver of the semi continued driving without stopping while Myers was critically injured in the collision. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center with a broken arm and leg where he is being charged with negligent driving.
While drowsy driving is a form of negligence, it cannot be measured like drunk driving can with a breathalyzer. Instead, the extent of negligence must be determined through the testimony of the driver and officers at the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, drivers falling asleep behind the wheel continue to cause accidents claiming the lives of over a thousand people every year. One great way to minimize the number of deaths caused by negligent driving is to raise awareness. Understanding the dangers of drowsy driving will help save lives.