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Driver Fatigue & Car Accidents in Charlotte

Drowsy driving is a serious problem that can lead to devastating accidents on the roads. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is responsible for 100,000 accidents annually and there were tragically 633 fatalities in 2020 alone. The effects of drowsiness on a driver are similar to those of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, with reduced reaction times, impaired judgment, and decreased cognitive functioning. This can result in swerving, drifting off the road, or even falling asleep at the wheel, leading to potentially fatal accidents. These accidents can occur on any road or highway, but Charlotte’s high traffic interstates like  I-77, I-85, and I-485 can be especially dangerous.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a drowsy driving car accident in Charlotte, it's important to seek legal representation to help you get the compensation you deserve. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and fight for you to get the compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering you deserve.

Causes of Driver Fatigue

Driving while tired is a serious issue that can lead to accidents on the road. There are several causes of driver fatigue, including lack of sleep, sleeping disorders, and long driving hours. Medications and substance use can also contribute to inattentiveness behind the wheel, and alcohol and drugs can have similar effects on a driver's judgment and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents. It's important for drivers to recognize the signs of fatigue and take steps to prevent it, such as getting enough sleep before a long trip, taking breaks during extended drives, and avoiding drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Sleep Deprivation

We have all had a long day at work, at the beach or an amusement park, or just running errands and then gotten behind the wheel feeling drained and tired. Being exhausted or sleep deprived can lead to slower reaction times, impaired decision-making abilities, and even microsleeps that can last several seconds. Shift workers, such as truck drivers or medical professionals, are at higher risk of experiencing driver fatigue due to irregular sleep schedules. Additionally, conditions like sleep apnea can disrupt a person's sleep and cause fatigue during the day. It's crucial for drivers to prioritize getting enough rest before hitting the road and also taking regular breaks during long trips to avoid the risks associated with driver fatigue.

Medications and Substance Use

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only illegal, it is a dangerous practice that can lead to serious accidents. However, it's not just illegal substances that can impair a person's ability to drive safely. Prescription medications used to treat various common medical conditions, including anxiety and sleep disorders, can cause drowsiness and affect driving ability. Before taking any medication, drivers should carefully read warning labels and talk to their doctor about potential side effects. It is also a good idea to take new medications at a time where you don’t have to drive or operate heavy machinery until you can see how it affects you.

Warning Signs of Fatigue

Staying alert and focused while driving is crucial for ensuring road safety, so it's vital to recognize the warning signs of fatigue when you are getting unfocused and tired in order to avoid accidents on the road. Yawning, heavy eyelids, drifting between lanes, and difficulty remembering the last few miles driven are all common symptoms of driver fatigue. If you notice these things, it is time to stop, get out of the car, get something to eat or drink and maybe get some sleep before continuing the drive.

Preventing Drowsy Driving Accidents

One of the most effective ways to combat the risk of drowsy driving accidents in North Carolina is to implement prevention strategies that can help drivers stay alert and focused while on the road. By recognizing the risks of driving while fatigued and taking proactive measures, drivers can reduce their chances of causing or being involved in a serious accident.

Get Enough Sleep: Prioritizing sleep and ensuring you are well-rested before getting behind the wheel is essential. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal alertness and cognitive function.

Plan Regular Breaks: When embarking on long trips, plan for regular breaks every two hours or every 100 miles. Use these breaks to stretch, take a short walk, or grab a snack to help re-energize and maintain focus while driving.

Travel with a Companion: If possible, travel with a friend or family member who can help you stay alert and share driving duties. Engaging in conversation can also help keep you awake and focused on the road.

Be Aware of Medications: As previously mentioned, some medications can cause drowsiness or impair your driving ability. Always read the labels and consult with your doctor before taking any medication that may affect your ability to drive safely.

Recognize the Signs of Fatigue: If you find yourself experiencing any of the warning signs mentioned earlier, pull over to a safe location and take a break or even a short nap if necessary. Driving while fatigued is not worth the risk.

By taking these preventive measures, you can contribute to the overall safety of the roads in Charlotte and beyond. However, if you or a loved one has been affected by a drowsy driving accident, don't hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer to help you navigate the complex process of pursuing compensation for your injuries, property damage, and other losses.

What to Do if You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident

The first thing that you should always do after an accident is seek medical attention. Someone should call the police to come to the scene, gather evidence, collect contact information for any witnesses who saw the accident happen, and make sure that all parties have the information they need in order to contact each other and the insurance companies moving forward. The police report can also note whether one of the drivers seemed tired or sleepy, though this may be hard to determine after an accident because of injury or the rush of adrenaline that comes from being in an accident.   

The next step, even before you talk to the insurance companies, is to talk to an experienced Charlotte car accident attorney. Even if your car was only involved in a minor accident, it's still a good idea to speak to a lawyer shortly after the accident. A lawyer can help gather and organize all the evidence and submit a strong claim to the insurance company on your behalf. Being in a car accident is overwhelming and stressful, as you have to deal with insurance adjusters, mechanics and car repairs, medical appointments, even loss of work time. A good car accident lawyer will handle the coordination and communication on all of this so that you can focus on recovery and healing during this time.

At Rosensteel Fleishman Car Accident & Injury Lawyers, we offer a free consultation to help you navigate through this process. Call us today at 1-704-714-1450 for a free consultation about your situation and let us help you decide on the best path forward after being involved in a car accident in Charlotte, NC.

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