Are Drowsy Drivers Liable if They Cause a Car Crash in Texas?

Young man yawning while driving at nightDriving drowsy is a significant problem in Texas. Many people may dismiss getting behind the wheel when they feel tired or think it is not a big deal. However, fatigue can impair drivers in ways that are very similar to being drunk. Just like driving under the influence of alcohol, drowsy drivers can be liable for damages if their condition leads to a crash.

Below, Anderson & Cummings explain what drowsy driving is and why driving in that condition is negligence. We also talk about the ways fatigue impacts drivers and their ability to operate their vehicles safely.

Do you need legal help after being injured in a Texas car crash? If so, we encourage you to contact our experienced Fort Worth car crash lawyers. We help victims injured by negligent drivers every day, and we are committed to fighting for the full and fair compensation you need.

Call (817) 920-9000 to request a FREE case review today. We are here to help you.

Can Drowsy Drivers Who Cause a Crash Be Held Liable for Damages?

Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired by drowsiness or alcohol risk causing serious or fatal crashes. Since the risk and potential harm is known, it is also preventable.

Additionally, all drivers owe a legal duty to take reasonable care when they get behind the wheel. Those who violate this legal duty by being negligent, careless or reckless can be held liable for any resulting damages.

Is Drowsy Driving a Big Problem in Fort Worth?

A 2023 report ranked Texas as being the second-worst in the country for crashes involving drowsy drivers. Unfortunately, many of these crashes cause fatal injuries.

That said, drowsy driving goes way beyond Texas state borders. The National Sleep Foundation reported that in a poll they ran as many as 27 percent of commuting workers admitted to driving drowsy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that out of the nearly 150,000 adults surveyed, 4.2 percent admitted to nodding off while driving in the 30 days prior to the survey.

Why You Should Avoid Driving While Drowsy

You should avoid getting behind the wheel when you are tired or drowsy. Driving while fatigued significantly increases your risk of crashing and injuring yourself or someone else.

Drowsiness affects your ability to drive safely in ways that are very similar to being under the influence of alcohol, such as by:

  • Impairing your reaction time
  • Making it harder for you to focus on the road
  • Dulling your decision-making abilities
  • Reducing your ability to notice and react to any road hazards
  • Increasing the risk of you nodding off at the wheel

Driving drowsy or tired can quickly lead to serious or fatal accidents. There are several ways this could happen, such as by:

  • Nodding off at the wheel and drifting unexpectedly into oncoming traffic
  • Drifting into the next lane of traffic and sideswiping another car
  • Missing critical road conditions, like black ice or an object in the road

To ensure safety, it is crucial to get adequate rest before driving and to take breaks during long trips.

Is Drowsy Driving the Same as Drunk Driving?

Drowsy driving and drunk driving are not the same, but they do share similar dangers. Both conditions impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Drowsy driving causes slowed reaction times, reduced ability to pay attention and impaired decision-making abilities. Drunk drivers have similar types of impairment, but they also have more difficulty with depth perception and may have blurry vision. Drunk drivers are often uninhibited and therefore more likely to deliberately engage in reckless or risky behavior, such as speeding.

However, drowsy driving often goes unrecognized as a danger, while drunk driving is widely acknowledged as hazardous. Despite the differences, both pose significant risks on the road and can lead to severe consequences, including injuries and fatalities.

When Are Drivers Most At Risk for Being Drowsy While Driving?

Those who drive when most people are sleeping, such as between midnight and 6 a.m., are more likely to feel drowsy. Other high-risk factors for falling asleep while driving include people who work alternate shifts. Driving along monotonous routes or long roads at night when there is little traffic can make already tired people more likely to nod off. In addition to being drowsy, some people may experience highway hypnosis along with fatigue.

Key Warning Signs You May Be Too Tired to Drive

Most of the time, you will probably know before ever getting into the car that you should not be driving. However, sometimes, it may not hit you until you are already on the road. Some of the key warning signs you should not continue driving include:

  • Yawning a lot
  • Eyelids feel heavy and hard to keep open
  • Blinking frequently
  • Hitting rumble strips
  • Drifting in and out of your lane
  • No memory of the last few miles
  • You find yourself tailgating
  • Missing exits and other signage
  • Difficulty focusing
  • And more

If you experience these symptoms and are struggling to stay awake, do not risk your safety or the safety of others. Find a safe place to pull over and rest. If someone riding with you is better rested and can drive, switch places.

Contact Our Trusted Law Firm Today

At Anderson & Cummings, we are here to help you and have a proven history of results. Our firm also has the resources to fully manage your case.

Find out if you have legal options by calling our firm today. There is no cost or risk to you. We are dedicated to holding at-fault parties accountable for their actions.

There are no upfront costs or fees to pay. Call (817) 920-9000 today.

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