How To Protect Yourself From Drowsy Driving:  Luray Route 211 West Crash

Recently, we have seen drowsy driving emerging as a major problem in the United States.  Alarmingly, the risks and dangers of drowsy driving as well as the tragic results are devastating.  Generally, drowsy driving occurs as a result of the combination of driving when sleepy or fatigued.  This can happen if a driver has not gotten enough sleep, but it can also occur if the driver has untreated sleep disorders, has been taking medications, has been drinking alcohol, or is working shifts.  Sometimes long haul or other commercial drivers who drive for many hours straight experience bouts of drowsy driving.

Driving while drowsy can affect drivers in the following ways:

  1. Slower reaction times
  2. Impaired judgment
  3. Increased levels of risk taking
  4. More frequent blinking/eye closure
  5. Deficits in cognitive performance
  6. Memory impairment
  7. Attention failure
  8. Loss of visual awareness

Drowsy drivers are also more easily distracted and suffer even greater performance deficits if they drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, or take over-the-counter medications.

Concerning drowsy driving, researchers have found:

  1.  An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 or older) reported falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days;
  2.  The National Highway Safety Administration estimate that, in 2013, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths.

Those who are more likely to drive drowsy

No one is immune from drowsy driving, but teens and young adults are particularly vulnerable.  It is estimated that drivers 25 years of age and younger are involved in more than half of the drowsy driving crashes annually in the United States.  Other drivers with high rates of drowsy driving accidents include:

  • College students
  • Shift and night workers
  • Tired police officers and EMS Providers
  • Health care workers
  • Commercial motor vehicle operators
  • People with sleep disorders

Warning signs of drowsy driving

  • Yawning or blinking frequently
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  • Missing your exit
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road

If you experience any of the following warning signs, pull over to rest or change drivers.  Turning up the radio or opening the window is not usually effective in keeping you from falling asleep.

A well-known drowsy driving accident was the 2015 fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike which critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend.

Local, Unexplained Accidents

Recently, in our area, there have been several reports of accidents caused by drivers who have run off the road.  It is uncertain whether these accidents were caused by drowsiness.  However, drowsiness can be a big contributing factor in automobile accidents.  Some of the reported accidents involving a car that ran off the road without explanation include:

  • A June 24, 2019 accident involving a 2020 Kia Telluride which was heading west on Rt. 211 outside of Luray, Virginia, when the vehicle ran off the roadway at 4:54 p.m. just before the intersection with Bixlers Ferry Road.  Police said the Kia ran off the left side of the road, across the median, and hit an eastbound 2005 Chevy Impala head-on. The impact of the crash sent the Kia into an eastbound 1999 GMC Envoy as well.
  • A June 16, 2019 accident involving a 2010 Mazda MZ3 was traveling along Rte. 259 (Brocks Gap Road) near Bergton, Virginia, when the car crossed the center line, ran off the left side of the road and struck an embankment.
  • An April 15, 2019 single-vehicle crash on North Frederick Pike (U.S. 522) in Frederick County, Virginia, involving a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The driver ran off the right side of the road about a half-mile south of Burnt Church Road (Route 678). The Jeep struck an embankment and concrete pedestal before over turning and coming to a rest.
  • A March 24, 2019 Louisa County, Virginia, accident at westbound I-64 at the 134.5 mile marker.  In this accident, the trooper’s preliminary investigation reveals that a 2012 Nissan Murano, driven by, Kenneth T. Owens, 56, of Waynesboro, Va. was traveling westbound when he ran off the right shoulder striking a 2006 Jeep Liberty, that was abandoned and disabled on the right shoulder. The Nissan then overturned several times going off road right. A Honda CRV also traveling westbound, sustained damage from hitting debris from the crash.

While only two states, New Jersey and Arkansas have enacted legislation that expressly addresses motorists who drive drowsy, in Virginia, causing an accident because you are drowsy or have fallen asleep is negligence.  While sleep advocates are encouraging other states to follow Arkansas and New Jersey’s lead, the effectiveness of these types of laws is still up for debate.  The National Highway Safety Administration will be working with both states to determine to what extent the laws are enforced as well as their awareness among the general public.

If you’ve been injured by the negligence of a drowsy driver, the Ritchie Law Firm has obtained life changing settlements for thousands of injury clients.  See our Verdicts and Settlements here.

Talk with a Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries at the hands of a drowsy driver, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.

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