The January 12 crash in San Jose that left one person dead underscores the fact that drowsy driving is never a good idea. Authorities say that the driver of a box garbage truck heading north from L.A. on U.S. 101 in San Jose fell asleep at the wheel, causing his truck to leave the roadway where it hit the shoulder and a sloped embankment before overturning. An improperly restrained man in the back seat sustained head injuries as a result and later died.
Driving while drowsy, whether due to lack of sleep, a sleeping disorder, taking medicines, working the late shift or even drinking alcohol, can and does have deadly results. In this instance, the box truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, and a man died as a result. Falling asleep is not the only potential outcome of drowsy driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Driving while drowsy can also:
- Slow reaction time on the roadway if a driver has to make a sudden steering or braking action
- Cause drivers to be able to pay less attention to conditions and activity on the roadway
- Affect the driver’s ability to make smart driving decisions
Driving drowsy is an all-too common phenomenon that can lead to devastating accidents like those seen on the 101. The CDC estimates that one driver out of every 25 drivers over the age of 18 has reported having fallen asleep behind the wheel within the last 30 days. Shift workers who work the night shift or who work multiple shifts or long shift and commercial drivers who drive buses, tractor trailers and tow trucks are more likely to drive drowsy. Drivers who have sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder that causes the sufferer to stop breathing during sleep, are almost more likely, says the CDC, to get drowsy while driving. People who snore and people who sleep six hours or less per day are more likely than their counterparts to experience falling asleep while driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 72,000 crashes resulting in 800 fatalities and 44,000 injuries were caused by drowsy driving in 2013 alone. However, the agency notes that these figures may be underestimated, since some fatal crashes make it impossible to prove whether the driver fell asleep and crashed. NHTSA says up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be attributed to drowsy driving as a result.
The CDC warns drivers to be alert to the warning signs of drowsy driving. These include blinking or yawning frequently, missing exits, drifting from lane to lane, running off the road and hitting a rumble strip, and finding it difficult to remember the last few miles of the roadway just driven. If you are driving and experience these signs, pull over and rest or change drivers if possible.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident—whether or not caused by drowsy driving—get in touch with our Los Angeles truck accident attorney at Compass Law Group right away to discuss the details and determine your best course of action moving forward with your personal injury claim.