Driver fatigue is responsible for an untold number of vehicle accidents. Even with the best of intentions, drivers who are tired and continue to drive put themselves and other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians at risk. If you have been the victim in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you may have recourse in obtaining compensation from the other party to pay for your pain and suffering.
According to the Road Safety Monitor publication by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), one in five Canadian drivers admitted that they had either nodded off or fallen asleep a minimum of one time in the previous 12 months of the survey.
Almost any type of accident can occur when a driver falls asleep at the wheel. Note that a driver does not have to actually fall asleep to cause an accident. A driver who is exhausted or fatigued is a driver with slower reaction times and a much lower awareness of the surroundings.
Technically, drowsy driving and fatigued driving are not the same thing. Drowsiness occurs when the person needs sleep, and the urge to go to sleep is strong. Fatigue is relegated more to the category of physical or mental exhaustion after performing some task for an extended amount of time. Either way, both terms encompass the dulled mental acuity of the driver.
One of the problems concerning fatigued drivers and assigning responsibility for an accident is that it is hard to prove that the condition caused the accident or to properly measure how tired the driver was. Unlike taking a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) measurement, there is no device to determine a fatigue level.
There is no law per se regarding driving while fatigued. There are other offenses, however, that can be charged that adequately cover the actions of a drowsy or fatigued driver who then causes an accident. These federal offenses include dangerous driving, impaired driving, or criminal negligence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Some drivers get behind the wheel without really realizing they are fatigued. Then again, some drivers are fully aware of how tired they are and still opt to drive. Some of the telltale signs of excessive tiredness include:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person driving after being awake for 18 hours has cognitive impairment similar to someone driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%. If the person has been awake for 24 hours, the degree of impairment is similar to someone with a BAC of .10%.
Of course, if an already tired driver also consumes alcohol or certain drugs or medications, the potential for magnifying their effects increases.
While it can be difficult to prove that a driver caused an accident due to drowsiness or fatigue, we know how to investigate these types of accidents in order to expose the relevant evidence when it exists. For example, a suspected fatigued driver may have been driving a truck for many hours over a long distance, or a worker worked the night shift when it was not his or her usual time slot, and then drove. It’s possible a tired driver has a documented sleep disorder, or was taking medication.
Talk with our experienced legal team to learn if you have a case and how we can help. This consultation is free. If we do take your case, you pay a fee only if we win. Our goal is to protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us today.