Drowsy Driving Accidents are More Serious Than You Think

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Updated February 26, 2024

Drowsy Driving Is Dangerous Driving

Drowsy driving poses a risk to the driver and all other people on the road. The risks of drowsy driving can lead to injury and sometimes even fatalities. Driver fatigue or simply lack of sleep can lead to an avoidable tragedy. Unfortunately, drowsy driving accidents are more common than one may think. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 25 adults reports that they have fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 21% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. You might be entitled to compensation for your losses if a drowsy driver caused an accident in which you lost a loved one or were injured.  

Signs of Drowsy Driving

Some signs that a driver should stop and rest include:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane or hitting the shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless or irritable

If you have experienced any of these signs, it’s time to pull over into a safe, unobstructed spot to rest. It’s vital to stay off the road until you feel equipped to drive again. 

What to do If You Experience Driver Fatigue

Drowsy driving is extremely dangerous, mainly because it can be difficult to notice driver fatigue until it’s too late. It’s important to be aware of the signs of drowsy driving so that you can react appropriately by safely pulling over. If necessary, stop for the night to get proper sleep. Other steps that may help after a resting period include:

  • Change drivers if there is another eligible driver with you
  • Caffeinate by drinking coffee or an energy drink
  • Check into a hotel or another, equivalent stay 
  • Avoid cruise control once back on the road to have your full attention behind the wheel
  • Keep windows rolled down
  • Play energetic but not distracting music

These tips could help you become more aware when driving. However, they are not antedotes or excuses for drowsy driving. Although coffee helps, it does not solve driver fatigue. The best action to take is to avoid driving until you are well-rested and can be fully attentive while driving.  

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Accidents 

You can do your part to be safe, but you cannot control the actions of others. Many drowsy driving accidents result from other tired drivers experiencing fatigue at the wheel. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are preventable.

Here are some tips on how to avoid tired driving accidents:

  • Drive during the day
  • Look for signs of danger on the road, such as others veering into your lane 
  • Stay alert

You might be able to file a car accident claim or even take your case to court if you were injured due to a drowsy driver’s negligence. You are entitled to compensation if you have been injured due to tired driving.  

Common Conditions of Drowsy Driving

There are many reasons why tired driving results in accidents, but there are certain common conditions in which people are more prone to drowsy driving. Below are some factors and causes that specifically contribute to drowsy driving and driver fatigue.


The most common ages of drowsy driving accidents are teenagers and seniors. In a study by cognitive scientist Kashfia Rahman, teenagers are shown to be more reckless, particularly while driving. That’s not to say that teenagers are bad drivers or should not be trusted. Still, because of their age and other factors, such as peer influence, teens often view life with vigor whereas older adults proceed with more caution. 

Additionally, teenagers tend to stay up late. This is often due to hormones and other physiological reasons, not just because they want to watch one more episode of their favorite TV show (though that may contribute, too). Teenagers also have to wake up early for school. Staying up late and getting up early usually results in drowsy driving, if not drowsy driving accidents. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, older age is also a factor in drowsy driving. According to the CDC, drivers, especially male drivers, above 70, have a higher crash death rate than middle-aged drivers. In a study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers found that it is not necessarily old age itself that causes tired driving, but common health conditions related to aging. Worsening vision, attention, or cognitive impairments are often root causes of age-related drowsy driving.  

Drugs and Alcohol

Driving while drunk or under the influence is illegal. Partaking in such acts can also make a person too tired to drive and fall asleep at the wheel. Car accidents involving drugs and alcohol are always dangerous. Factor in drowsiness from the aftereffects of substance use, and the road becomes much more dangerous. 

In addition to alcohol and illicit drug use, other, more common drugs can also lead to drowsy driving accidents. Many cold and flu medications make you drowsy. Some antihistamines, including Benadryl, have the same side effect. Prescription medications may also cause drowsiness and fatigue. 

Night Shift Commutes

Unfortunately, many drowsy driving accidents occur when night shift workers return home from a long night at work. The circadian rhythm, or the natural sleep cycle that our bodies go through in response to light and dark, is disrupted. Working at night frequently causes exhaustion and fatigue. When a person is in that state, driving home can be dangerous.  

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can add to the dangers of drowsy driving. Sleep apnea and narcolepsy can lead to falling asleep at the wheel. Those with sleep disorders should proceed with caution before operating a vehicle. Contact a medical professional immediately if you believe you suffer from a sleep disorder..

Time of Day

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight and 6:00 am or in the late afternoon. Car accidents increase during these times because drivers are more tired.  


When it’s time for the annual rite of passage of Thanksgiving, we know what to do: stuff ourselves with turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie at the dinner table. Soon after, a food coma will ensue, and we find ourselves on the couch for the remainder of the evening. Drowsy driving accidents are not reserved just for Thanksgiving, either. It includes any significant holiday festivity that involves food, drinks, and merriment. Let yourself have fun and enjoy the holidays! But don’t forget to include rest as part of your enjoyment, which will keep you, your family, and others safe on the road.  If you’re traveling during the holiday season, make sure you’re well rested before starting your journey.

What to Do If You’ve Been In A Tired Driving Accident

Your safety is the most important thing if you have been in a drowsy driving accident. Here are some steps to follow after a car crash:

  • If possible, get to a safe place, not too far from the accident.
  • Check for injury. If you or a passenger has a major injury, call an ambulance and get transported to a hospital immediately. Also, consider visiting a medical professional even if you do not have immediate signs of injury. Adrenaline can put your body into a stressed state where it does not recognize injuries. Seeing a medical professional can help reveal internal injuries or concussions.
  • Call 911 to make a police report.
  • Take photos and videos of the scene of the accident.
  • Collect the driver’s insurance information
  • Gather the information of those around. We can use this later for witness testimony, if necessary.
  • Call your car accident attorney at WKW.

Your safety is the top priority right after a car accident. It’s essential to ensure you are okay and seek the help you need. Here at WKW, we want to make sure that you have the compensation you deserve to properly heal.

Making a Drowsy Driving Accident Claim or Lawsuit

If you have been in a drowsy driving accident, the driver was acting with negligence. A person should not drive on the road if they cannot stay awake and alert while behind the wheel. The result of tired driving can be devastating. Suppose you have suffered the consequences of another’s reckless, drowsy driving. In that case, you may be eligible to seek compensation by either making a car accident claim or taking your case to court with a lawsuit. 

In Indiana, drivers are required to have liability insurance coverage. Make sure to call us before filing an insurance claim. Many insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible. But the experienced attorneys at WKW know how to negotiate and speak with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Learn more about Indiana car insurance laws here.

We can also discuss the option of taking your case to court. Typically, filing a lawsuit is a strenuous and lengthy process that may end in a settlement even before a courtroom decision. However, if going to court is what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve, we will be by your side to represent you the entire way.  

Drowsy Driving Accident Compensation

The type of tired driving compensation you can recover depends on the accident. Each drowsy driving accident is unique, resulting in various bills. Here are some examples of the types of car accident compensation you can recover:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of irreplaceable objects
  • Damaged property costs
  • Transportation costs
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • And more

Some of the more difficult damages to recover are non-economic compensation. These damages are subjective, and they do not come with a receipt but impact your quality of life. Included in non-economic damages are pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and disfigurement. Click the link to learn more about pain and suffering in a car accident

Indiana Car Accident Statute of Limitations

Indiana statute of limitations states that you have two years from the accident date to file a claim. Even though you have two years, it’s important to talk to us right away. Building a case takes time, as we must collect evidence and conduct investigations. The sooner you contact a car accident attorney after you have suffered in a drowsy driving accident, the better. 

Contact the Car Accident Attorneys at WKW

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident due to another’s drowsy driving, contact the car accident attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham today. Drowsy driving accidents can result in anguish and pain financially, mentally, and physically.  Our firm’s experienced attorneys want to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve after suffering in a drowsy driving accident. 

If you have any questions about drowsy driving laws or making a claim after suffering in a drowsy driving accident, contact our team of car accident attorneys right away. We can start collecting evidence and building a case so that you can focus on healing. Call us at 317.218.9643 or fill out an online contact form for a free consultation today.

Stay Safe and Avoid Drowsy Driving

If you ever feel yourself getting drowsy behind the wheel, find a place to pull over and doze for a few minutes, change drivers, or grab a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage.

Wilson Kehoe Winingham brings you this information with best regards for you and your family’s safety.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


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