Fatigued Driving Accidents in Washington State

While car accidents in the State of Washington are caused by various factors, one of the most common is fatigued driving. In fact, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving since going too long without sleep can drastically hinder your driving abilities in the same manner as drinking too much alcohol. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigued driving was the cause of an estimated 91,000 collisions, 50,000 injuries, and nearly 800 fatalities in 2017 – although drowsy driving results in 6,000 fatal accidents annually in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (at least 18 years of age) report having fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. 

What is Considered Driver Fatigue?

Fatigued driving means falling asleep or operating a vehicle while feeling tired and crashing into an object, another vehicle, or a pedestrian. Drowsiness can cause delayed reaction times, inability to maintain attention, and poor judgment on the road. 

The following are common factors of driver fatigue: 

  • Drivers who do not get enough sleep 

  • Employees who work long shifts or night shifts 

  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders operating tractor-trailers, buses, etc. 

  • Drivers who use medications that cause drowsiness 

  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders, including sleep apnea

Common symptoms of drowsy driving include yawning, frequent blinking, muscle twitching, a heavy sensation in the eyes, focusing difficulties, back tension, shallow breathing, missing an exit, drifting in another lane, hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road, and difficulty remembering the past few miles driven. 

Is It Illegal to Drive While Drowsy in Washington State? 

While fatigued driving is not a crime in Washington, you could still face several criminal charges for committing such an action. Common charges include reckless driving and failure to maintain proper lane position, as well as vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter/homicide, especially if reckless driving causes another person’s injury or death. 

How Can I Avoid Fatigued Driving? 

All drivers must always be alert on the road, especially on long road trips. There are certain steps you can take to prevent driver fatigue and being involved in a drowsy driving accident. 

Here are several steps to avoid fatigued driving: 

  • Get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep a day 

  • Create a sleep schedule or otherwise develop good sleeping habits 

  • Do not drink alcohol or take medications that cause drowsiness 

  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you believe you have a sleep disorder or show signs of a sleep disorder 

  • Avoid taking a long trip at night 

  • Avoid driving during normal sleeping hours 

  • Eat light instead of heavy meals prior to driving 

  • During a long road trip, take a break every 2 hours or 100 miles driven 

  • If you feel tired, pull over to a rest stop or check yourself into a motel/hotel and take a nap 

If you have been injured in a car accident in Seattle, call Emery Reddy Serious Injury Department at (206) 202-2562 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Our car accident attorneys in Seattle have recovered more than $200 million in compensation on behalf of our clients!