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Study Finds Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

According to a recent news article from CBS News, a study from AAA has determined that the risks of driving while drowsy are commensurate with the risks of driving while intoxicated.  The study focused on drivers who are not getting enough sleep at night and found that drivers who miss out on as little as two hours of sleep a night are four times more likely to get into a car accident than those who sleep a full seven hours per night.

sleepyThe article looks at the data but also the story of a woman whose 18-year-old son was killed in a Missouri car accident near the end of his senior year of high school.  In that crash, her son was driving during the afternoon when his car skidded across three lanes of traffic until it rolled over and flipped multiple times.  The car stopped when it slammed into a tree, and her son was killed.

Authorities investigated the cause of this fatal car accident, and, as part of their investigation, the medical examiner performed a full autopsy.  They found no drugs or alcohol in his system.  After speaking with his family, authorities learned the victim had only been sleeping between four and six hours each night, and that led investigators to surmise that the victim had fallen asleep behind the wheel, and that was the cause of this deadly car accident.

The victim’s mother said she was in shock when she first found out and remembers screaming and falling to the ground.  Six years has passed since the day of her son’s tragic death, and she said the pain is still with her all the time.

She said she had never talked with her son about the dangers of driving while drowsy, as she had warned him about drunk driving and driving while distracted by texting or otherwise using a cell phone while driving.  As the article goes on to discuss, and as our Boston car accident have seen in far too many cases, it seems that people do not really think about the dangers of driving while drowsy.

However, the question in a Boston car accident case is not whether the defendant knew that what he or she was doing was dangerous, but rather whether they knew or should have known that they were engaging in dangerous conduct.  While this may seem like a subtle distinction, it is actually a very important one.  The reason for this is because the courts use an objective standard and not a subjective standard.  In other words, the jury is to decide if a reasonable and prudent person should have known the conduct was dangerous, so that they are not required to actually know what the defendant was thinking.

The concept of a reasonable and prudent person is the basis for the standard of care in a negligence case, such as one involving a car accident and personal injury as we have been discussing here.  If one fails to act as a reasonable and prudent person, they are said to have breached the duty of due care owed to the plaintiff.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

AAA study finds risks of drowsy driving comparable to drunk driving, December 6, 2016, CBS News

More Blog Entries:

Report: Fall River Teen Killed in Car Crash on Way to Prom, June 26, 2016, Boston Car Accident Injury Lawyer Blog