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Dangerous Effects of Sleep Deprivation and Getting Behind the Wheel

Posted in Car Accidents on March 11, 2020

Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, which in turn leads to slower reflexes and more accidents. While Louisiana doesn’t keep statistics on causes of accidents other than driving under the influence and weather for passenger vehicles, it does keep track of how many accidents caused deaths and injuries. In 2019, according to LSU, Louisiana had 655 fatal crashes and 44,116 crashes with injuries. Of the fatal wrecks, 462 drivers died, 121 occupants died, and 114 pedestrians died. Of the injury wrecks, 47,909 were drivers, 22,502 were occupants, and 1,395 were pedestrians. In Jefferson Parish alone, 32 people died, and 3,648 people suffered injuries in crashes. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident, contact the Law Office of John W. Redmann today.

Tired and Fatigued

Some people use ‘tired’ and ‘fatigued’ to describe the normal feeling of being tired after a long day. However, if you are tired, a good night’s sleep reinvigorates you. When you are fatigued, you don’t have any energy, and sleeping does not reinvigorate you. Fatigue could last a month or less, or it could last more than a month – sometimes longer than six months.

Stress and health issues are common causes of fatigue. Health issues might include diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, sleep apnea, anemia, and thyroid disease. Certain medications, including blood pressure medications, diuretics, and antihistamines could also cause you to feel fatigued.

Combating Fatigue

You can help combat fatigue by taking certain actions. If you are stressed, seeing a mental health professional often helps. You could also:

  • Start an exercise regimen. Physical activity increases your energy levels.
  • Drink enough water. If you often drink sodas, coffee, and tea all day, you could suffer from dehydration, which could lead to fatigue. Decrease your caffeine intake and drink more water throughout the day.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep.
  • Add a fish oil supplement for Omega-3 to your diet.
  • Schedule demanding activities when your body is more active. Some people have more energy in the mornings while others have more energy near the end of the day or in the evening.
  • Watch your blood sugar. You might be someone who benefits from eating several smaller meals during the day instead of the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cut your portion sizes, so you don’t gain weight – eat the same number of calories over five or six meals instead of three.
  • Finally, get rid of any extra weight you are carrying around. Even if you lose five to ten pounds, you’ll have more energy.

Driving While Fatigued

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving, including fatigued drivers, killed 795 people in 2017, and, in the same year, 91,000 wrecks were attributed to drowsy driving. The NHTSA recognizes that there are differences between being tired, fatigued, and being sleepy, but they are lumped together for statistics.

Fatigued driving wrecks happen more often during the late afternoon and between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Those are the times when most people’s circadian rhythm – the function that regulates sleep – dips. Signs of driver fatigue at an accident scene include:

  • No skid marks at the accident scene
  • Leaving the road at a high rate of speed

If you wreck into the woods or a field, you are the only person who gets hurt if you are alone in your vehicle. However, if you head to the left, or if you are on a multi-lane highway, you could injure or kill others when you fall asleep at the wheel.

Avoid Driving Drowsy

In addition to getting enough sleep before you drive:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Do not drive after taking prescription medications if they cause drowsiness.
  • If you are on medications that cause drowsiness, take public transportation when possible.
  • Avoid driving after midnight, before 6:00 a.m., and if possible, in the late afternoon.

Don’t let the short-time feeling of alertness from drinking caffeine lull you into thinking you are not tired. You could still have up to five seconds of loss of consciousness while driving. At 55 mph, you’ve traveled more than 100 yards and could easily cause a wreck. The better option is to drink coffee and pull over for 20 or 30 minutes to take a nap. However, keep in mind that this will only fuel your alertness for a short period of time.

Recoverable Damages from a Car Accident

If you were injured or you lost a loved one because a drowsy or fatigued driver caused an accident, you could recover damages. Louisiana allows victims of vehicle accidents to recover special and general damages.

Special Damages

Economic damages, frequently referred to as special damages, are those that have a price tag attached and include:

  • Past medical expenses for those expenses you incurred because of accident injuries.
  • Future medical expenses for those you expect to incur because of accident injuries, including additional surgeries, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy.
  • Past lost wages to cover the time you were not able to work because of the initial injuries.
  • Future lost wages if doctors believe your injuries are long-term or permanent.
  • Replacement or repair of personal property.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

Learn more about recovering damages after a vehicle accident when you schedule a free consultation with The Law Office of John W. Redmann.

General Damages

Non-economic damages, frequently referred to as general damages, include those that do not have a price tag and include:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Loss of companionship.
  • Loss of consortium.
  • Inconvenience.
  • Loss of use of a body part or function.
  • Disfigurement.

In most cases, you must expect your injuries to be long-term or permanent to recover general damages.

Contact The Law Office of John W. Redmann

If you suffer from injuries from a vehicle accident, or if you lost a loved one as a result of a vehicle accident, contact The Law Office of John W. Redmann at (504) 500-5000 to schedule a free consultation.