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Are Tired Drivers Causing More Crashes During COVID-19 Pandemic?

New Mexico auto accident attorney

New Mexico car accident lawyer explains what you need to know to stay safe

Drowsy driving might not seem like a serious crime – until a tired driver crashes into you. Suddenly, you or a loved one could sustain a serious injury due to another driver falling asleep at the wheel.

So are there more drowsy driving accidents happening now that the quality of people’s sleep may have decreased during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic? Albuquerque, New Mexico car accident attorney Andras Szantho of Andras Szantho Law Firm explores this topic – and what you should do if a tired driver causes your crash.

Less quality sleep during COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?

Since the coronavirus pandemic became widespread in March, many people have been experiencing less quality sleep around the world, according to two recent scientific studies. In an article published by Cell Press on June 10, many people in the United States and Europe have been sleeping more since the coronavirus pandemic started in March. However, the quality of their sleep has decreased since many people are spending less time socializing with others, a phenomenon researchers refer to as “social jetlag.”

“Usually, we would expect a decrease in social jetlag to be associated with reports of improved sleep quality," sleep researcher and cognitive neuroscientist Christine Blume from the University of Basel's Centre for Chronobiology, Switzerland, said. "However, in our sample, overall sleep quality decreased. We think that the self-perceived burden, which substantially increased during this unprecedented COVID-19 lockdown, may have outweighed the otherwise beneficial effects of a reduced social jetlag."

Blume and other researchers studied sleep patterns during a six-week-period from mid-March to the end of April in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, when most people were required to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Blume and others found that most people slept 15 minutes longer each night but “indicated a perception that sleep quality had declined.”

Link between lack of sleep and increase in car accidents

Researchers have long known that lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in motor vehicle accidents caused by tired or sleeping drivers. In 2017, a total of 91,000 motor vehicle accidents involved drowsy drivers nationwide, resulting in 795 deaths that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Here are some other eye-opening statistics about drowsy driving, courtesy of the National Safety Council:

  • Tired drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a car crash than alert drivers.
  • Driving more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent – the legal limit for drunk drivers in most states.
  • The longer you are awake, the worse your reaction time becomes behind the wheel.

Drivers have a choice every time they get behind the wheel. They can choose to not drive if they’re too tired. That’s why it’s important for drowsy drivers or asleep at the wheel drivers to be held accountable for their actions when they cause someone's injury or death.

What should I do if a tired driver causes my car accident?

If a driver falls asleep at the wheel or was drowsy at the time of your crash, we strongly urge you to take the following steps to protect your health and your rights:

  • Call the police and tell them you think a tired driver caused your collision.
  • Ask the police to respond to your drowsy driving accident.
  • Ask the police to send an ambulance to examine you and anyone else who may have been injured.
  • Get the following information from the other driver:
    • Their name
    • Their address
    • Their phone number
    • Their driver’s license number
    • Their insurance information
  • Make note of whether the driver has trouble answering these questions or seems unaware of what happened.
  • If someone saw your crash, get their name and phone number. Their testimony could end up being a powerful piece of evidence.
  • Take photographs of your crash scene. Make sure to take photos of anything that could indicate that the driver was asleep at the time of the crash. This includes no skid marks, especially if the driver ran a red light or stop sign.
  • Contact a car accident lawyer right away.

Experienced, New Mexico car accident attorney Andras Szantho knows how to handle such complicated car accidents. He knows what evidence to look for and how to negotiate effectively with the other driver’s insurance company. And if they refuse to cooperate, we won’t hesitate to file a car accident lawsuit on your behalf. Contact us and schedule your free case evaluation with an Albuquerque, NM drowsy driving accident lawyer who puts your best interests first.

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