Every Marietta car accident attorney knows that driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just this week, an 18 year old state championship football player died after falling asleep at the wheel around 2:30am on Saturday in Burke County. He was a senior and looking forward to playing football in college. Tragically, this young man was not drinking or texting, or it seems even speeding. Denzell Warthen was simply exhausted and should not have been driving.
This recent incident follows the accident last week, involving another young man, 19 year old Giovanni Aragon-Mercado, who is facing charges in the death of 24 year old motorcyclist Derrick Ferree. Reports of that tragedy indicate that Mr. Aragon-Mercado fell asleep at the wheel and drifted across the center lane of traffic in Cherokee County. In that instance, the sleepy driver was not hurt, but he killed another.
This is a problem that does not make as many headlines as drunk driving or distracted teen driving, but it is a problem nonetheless. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report on drowsy drivers states that a 2010 telephone survey showed that 41 percent of drivers admitted to having “fallen asleep or nodded off” while driving at some point. The fact that most of the time this does not lead to an accident is luck, because nodding off while driving means your senses and reflexes are impaired if something comes up.
The report took various factors into account and determined an estimated 7 percent of crashes where a vehicle is towed, 13.1 percent of crashes resulting in a person going to the hospital, and 16.5 percent of fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver. It causes 100,000 crashes a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And 45 percent of the time the attention status of the driver is unknown, so the number of drowsy drivers is probably underreported. The likely underreporting is buffered by the fact that the AAA also found that more than one in four US drivers admits to having driven when they were “so sleepy [they] had a hard time keeping [their] eyes open” within the past month. Once again, young drivers are especially susceptible as well, with a reported one in ten 16-24 year olds driving drowsy once or even twice a week.
Many of us lead busy lives. But if you are feeling drowsy and overly tired, please stay off the road. Call a cab or a friend to pick you up, or simply spend the night where you are. If you can’t do that, try to take a short nap before driving. A 15 to 20 minute nap will resort alertness for another hour or two. Forcing yourself to drive when you are exhausted may only cause an accident that may hurt you or others, so take precautions.
If you or someone in your family has suffered from a car crash, the Marietta car accident attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter are available to assist with determining whether you have a case and how to move forward. Please call us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.
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(Photo courtesy of Alyssa L. Miller)