Drowsy driving affects everyone, whether it’s a teenager driving home late at night or an adult driving home from a late night at the office. Driving when tired or sleepy is a serious impairment which mimics driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drowsiness leads to slower reaction times and impairs attention, mental processing and decision making.
The problem with drowsy driving is that it is a particularly difficult behavior to identify and enforce. There is practically no way for law enforcement to give a driver a ticket for driving when tired. Rather, a driver is going to get a ticket after having committed some traffic infraction or worse, caused an accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 70,000 car crashes occur due to drowsy driving each year. As a result, more than 800 people are killed. According to one study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 7% of all crashes and 16.5% of all fatal accidents are caused by a drowsy driver.
Last month, NHTSA began the Drowsy Driving Research and Program Plan. The plan is the first of its kind—the first time NHTSA has taken on the problem of drowsy driving. It will address several areas including measurement and data collection, public awareness and assessing high-risk populations such as younger drivers and shift workers.
Does Age Play a Role in Drowsy Driving?
According to the AAA Foundation, age plays a major role in car accidents caused by drowsy driving. Drivers in the 16-24 age category who were involved in a car accident were two times more like to drive when sleepy compared to drivers in the 40-59 age category. In addition, drivers age 24 and younger were most likely to report having fallen asleep at the wheel.
Drowsy Driving & Delaware Car Accident Law
Individuals who are injured in car or pedestrian accidents in Delaware due to a drowsy driver have legal rights to receive fair and just financial compensation for their injuries. Auto insurance claims (AKA personal injury protection claims) may be made to receive medical treatment coverage and lost wages. Click the link to get more information about PIP claims after a Delaware car accident.
Injured individuals also have a right to make claims for financial compensation against the at-fault driver. Compensation may be obtained for pain and suffering, financial losses which exceed PIP and financial losses which are not covered under PIP.
In some cases, injured individuals injured in Delaware auto accidents can make UIM (underinsured motorist) claims. These claims may be made when the at-fault driver’s auto insurance coverage is inadequate and does not sufficiently compensate the injured party.
For example, a major auto crash occurs on Interstate 95 in Wilmington when Driver A falls asleep at the wheel and drifts into the next lane. Driver A strikes Driver B, causing a major collision. Driver B sustains serious injuries, requiring extensive medical treatment. Driver B also misses work for several months due to the injuries. Driver A has an auto insurance policy with the bare minimum in coverage ($15,000 bodily injury) as required by Delaware law. Driver B’s injuries, medical treatment and wage loss exceed the $15,000 limit under Driver A’s policy. Therefore, Driver B may be eligible to make a UIM claim, so long as Driver B elected this type of coverage.
Unfortunately UIM coverage is optional. Many Delaware residents opt out and end up learning the hard way how important this type of coverage really is. It’s important to note that Delaware UIM law is very complex.
If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident in Delaware, it’s crucial to seek advice from an experienced auto injury lawyer immediately to protect your legal rights. We have offices in Wilmington, Newark and Dover. (302) 658-1717
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