Driving while drowsy can be negligence
After decades of awareness campaigns, police crackdowns and increased penalties, most Florida drivers today are familiar with the dangers of driving while drunk. Similarly, many drivers are at least vaguely aware of the hazards of driving while distracted by smartphones and other devices. But many drivers fail to consider the dangers of driving while drowsy.
Some of the dangers of driving while fatigued are essentially the same as the dangers of driving while drunk. They include:
- Delayed reaction times
- Reduced ability to estimate distances and speed
- Poor judgment
- Falling asleep at the wheel
Regulation and negligence
The trucking industry must abide by fairly complex safety regulations that are meant to combat truck driver fatigue, but there are few such rules for other drivers. Only two states have laws that make it illegal for a person to drive while they know they are too tired to do so safely. Florida has no such law, although it does have a law promoting awareness of the problem.
Without a law specifically prohibiting drowsy driving, law enforcement and courts must look at the problem on a case by case basis.
Negligence is the legal theory underpinning most personal injury cases involving traffic accidents. Under this theory, all drivers have a duty to others to exercise reasonable care to avoid an accident. If they breach this duty, they act negligently. If their negligence causes injury to someone else, the injured may hold them liable for their damages.
It’s relatively easy for an injured person to prove that the other driver acted negligently if they can show that the other driver was drunk at the time of the accident. It’s more difficult to prove that the other driver was too sleepy to drive safely, and that the driver therefore caused the accident through negligence. Still, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help the injured and their families to craft a powerful argument so that they can argue for the compensation they deserve.