A chain-reaction crash on a southwest Virginia highway sent four people to the hospital with injuries on the morning of March 24, 2017. The incident began with a rear-end collision on Highway 19 in Washington County.
The six-vehicle wreck happened about a mile west of the town of Abingdon, which sits south and west of Roanoke. The SUV driver who caused the initial crash told state police that he "became very sleepy" after dropping his child off at school and could not stop in time when he approached a line of idling vehicles on the state route known locally as W. Main Street.
Law enforcement officials and crash researchers would call this a drowsy driving incident. Drivers who have not gotten enough sleep or have spent too long behind the wheel are particularly prone to causing wrecks. And a survey by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that parents living with school-aged children were particularly at risk for going without adequate rest before driving. According to the organization, 59 percent of adults with young children in their homes are likely to drive at some time while feeling drowsy.
The group also cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates for about 100,000 police-reported crashes happening each year because of driver fatigue. NHTSA actually analyzed crash reports from across the United States for 2009 and found that
An estimated 30,000 injury crashes with reports of drowsy drivers occurred in 2009 (2.0 percent of all injury crashes in 2009). Of all police-reported crashes that occurred in 2009 (fatal, injury, and property damage), 1.3 percent involved reports of drowsy driving (72,000 of a total of 5.5 million crashes).
News reports do not include details on how badly the four people wo got hospitalized after the crash near Abingdon were hurt. The at-fault driver escaped injury, but the other individuals should have strong grounds for filing insurance claims against him to make him pay medical bills. Falling asleep at the wheel can be considered negligent or reckless behavior. Drivers who behave in ways that make controlling their vehicles difficult or impossible are responsible for making compensation and paying damages to people they harm. This is true even if the problem can be described as merely being "sleepy."