A one-car accident injured five people near New Haven, West Virginia on July 4. The crash occurred around 11:00 p.m. on northbound W.Va. 62 when a driver carrying four passengers fell asleep, according to the Mason County Sheriff. The vehicle swerved into the right-hand ditch, but it hit a large rock that redirected the vehicle back onto the road.
The driver and four passengers, including a minor, were injured in the crash. Emergency medical services transported the driver and the minor passenger to Pleasant Valley Hospital. Three adult passengers were flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center for treatment.
The Mason County Sheriff said it did not appear that the driver was impaired at the time of the crash, but I have to disagree. Just because the driver wasn’t intoxicated does not mean he wasn’t impaired. Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and it is a serious traffic safety issue.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) conducted a poll and found that 60% of Americans admit to driving despite feeling “sleepy”, and 37% actually fell asleep behind the wheel in the past year. The NSF blames these scary statistics in part on people’s tendency to think they can “handle” driving when they’re tired or keep themselves awake. It also states people do not actually know when they are about to fall asleep.
While you may not be able to tell the exact moment you will fall asleep, you certainly know when you’re starting to feel tired. If you’re yawning, daydreaming, or feel your eyelids getting heavy, you need to pull over. If you’re drifting from your lane or suddenly find yourself miles down the road and don’t remember driving it, you need to pull over. It doesn’t matter if you’re running late or you only have X amount of miles left to your destination. When you drive drowsy you drive impaired and put yourself and others in danger.
Luckily, the passengers involved in this crash are listed in good condition and will likely make full recoveries. Each year, 1,550 people are not so lucky. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is reported as the cause of over 100,000 accidents a year. People who drive fatigued cause 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths yearly. These numbers may be even higher because drowsy driving is underreported.
Our firm has successfully settled cases for victims who were seriously injured when a driver fell asleep at the wheel. If you were seriously injured by someone who was inattentive or fell asleep at the wheel, contact us to discuss your legal options. You may have a potential claim for damages. For more information on drowsy driving, see our tips for preventing driver fatigue.