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Some of the most serious car accidents are entirely preventable. While drunk driving and distracted driving are among the most common examples of unsafe driving behaviors that are known to cause car accidents, drowsy driving is just as dangerous. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, motorists who only get between five and six hours of sleep in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to get into a car accident. The risk increases substantially with each hour of lost sleep.
Extreme drowsiness can cause motorists to fall asleep at the wheel. However, drowsy driving is dangerous under any circumstance, even if you do not actually fall asleep while driving. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), drowsy driving actually has a similar impact on the body as alcohol. For example, drowsy motorists have a slower reaction time, they are less aware of hazards, and they are less able to keep their attention focused on the road. In addition, when a motorist drives after being awake for 18 consecutive hours or more, it has the same impact on the body as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. Being awake for 24 hours or more is comparable to having a BAC of 0.10 percent.
There are a number of factors that cause drowsiness. The following are some of the most common causes of drowsy driving:
One of the reasons that drowsy driving is so dangerous is that the signs of fatigue often appear gradually. However, just because you are not falling asleep at the wheel does not mean that you are not suffering from fatigue. Even mild signs of drowsiness can increase the risk of a serious drowsy driving accident. Common signs of driver fatigue include:
Drowsy driving is common because it is not generally considered as serious as drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, and other unsafe driving behaviors. The following motorists are more likely to drive while drowsy:
Getting enough sleep on a daily basis is important, not only for your overall health, but to ensure that you are able to maintain control of your car and avoid getting into a serious accident. The following are proactive steps you can take to get enough sleep and reduce the risk of a drowsy driving car accident:
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driver, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer. Our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will investigate the details of your case. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford
Soon after Halloween, the clocks need to be turned back to end daylight saving time (DST). This year, the time change will happen in the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 7.
For drivers, the end of DST means that the common commuting hour of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. will be in darkness. Also, the commute into work and school is more likely to involve sun glare. All of this can create dangerous conditions for drivers.
Even though DST is not a popular tradition, it will likely continue in Delaware until many other states eliminate the time change. Since it will be happening in most of the United States, there is something far more serious for people to keep in mind. Drivers are more likely to get in car accidents for about two weeks following the time shift. AAA Mid-Atlantic said the increase in accidents in Nov. results from disrupted sleep patterns, even if an hour of sleep is gained.
Pedestrians are also vulnerable during the end of DST, specifically between the hours of 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The morning commute comes with sun glare when the clocks fall back, making it difficult to see the road ahead. With the end of DST, the evening commute time of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. is now in darkness. The week before, people were driving in more light during this time, even if it was fading. In essence, drivers are coming across visual challenges on both ends of the commute.
Morning glare causes accidents, but crashes are far more likely to occur at night than any other time of the day. Despite 60 percent less traffic on the roads at night, more than 40 percent of all car accidents occur at night, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
It takes time to adjust to the time shift. Sleep experts advise that you should expect to take at least a week or so to adapt to the time change. At first, people tend to become drowsy when it is dark outside, and that is another thing to keep in mind while traveling during your evening commute. Drowsy driving, similar to drunk driving, means inattention and reduced reaction time, according to the AAA.
Besides darkness coming early, adjusting sleep to your new sleep schedule can make you feel more agitated. Agitation can lead to aggression. On the road, you may also see more aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding and tailgating.
There are biological reasons for irritability, too. The circadian rhythm, which controls the release of mood, appetite, and sleep hormones, will be thrown off, even when the time change is just one hour. That shift in the circadian rhythm can lead to headaches and other adverse side effects.
The AAA has a few tips that drivers can follow at the end of DST and throughout November and the winter months:
For pedestrians and cyclists:
There will likely be an uptick in car accidents in the weeks following the end of DST. You should prepare for the time change, but you cannot guarantee that other drivers will do the same. If you were injured by a drowsy driver, contact our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Complete our online form or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.
When high winds strike, the vehicles that are impacted the most are trucks. Their large size essentially transforms them into sails that catch the wind and can result in the truck being blown over or off the road. A truck accident caused by wind may cause catastrophic injuries to the occupants of nearby passenger vehicles and some accidents may be fatal.
Truck drivers are used to spending their days on the road in different weather conditions, but they have a responsibility to be aware of upcoming weather events that may present a danger to themselves and those around them. While they cannot control the weather, they can choose not to drive through dangerous conditions. Tractor trailers that are empty present a grave risk in high wind conditions as an empty trailer makes the truck much more susceptible to a rollover.
There are many factors that contribute to a high wind truck accident. Truck drivers and trucking companies are highly regulated and must meet strict federal and state safety standards that include the following:
Failure to comply with safety regulations can constitute negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be eligible for compensation, but be aware that liability in a truck accident can be complicated. The driver, the owner of the truck, and the trucking company will attempt to shift blame away from themselves to avoid paying damages. Working with an experienced truck accident attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Holding a truck company liable for your injuries can be an uphill battle. Contact an experienced Wilmington truck accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow, LLC who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve, so that you can concentrate on your recovery. Call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation about your case or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we assist injured victims throughout the state.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released a new study that shows drowsy driving is a much more prevalent factor in car accidents than previously thought by federal authorities. Federal estimates suggest drowsy driving is a factor in one or two percent of all crashes; but in the AAA study, 9.5 percent of all crashes involved a drowsy driver. In severe crashes, the percentage of drowsy drivers grew to 10.8.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 35 percent of American drivers do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep every night. In a survey done by AAA, 96 percent of all drivers said they see drowsy driving as a serious threat, yet 29 percent had to admit there had been times in the previous month when they were driving and having trouble staying awake.
Missing a few hours of sleep may not seem like a big deal, but in fact those missing hours quadruple the risk of a crash. Studies show that a sleep deprived driver functions like a drunk driver, with the same reduced reaction times and alertness.
The only thing a driver can do to regain normal function is to sleep. Fresh air and coffee are no substitute, because the need for sleep will eventually get the better of a driver’s attempts at staying awake.
The AAA study is unique, in that 3,593 drivers allowed cameras to be placed in their own cars for several months to record them driving. The drivers were selected from six different locations across the United States for the study, which took place from October 2010 to December 2013. According to AAA, the study is the most in-depth ever done on the problem of drowsy driving.
Analysis of the videos allowed researchers to assess how fatigued drivers were in the moments before a crash. They defined drowsy drivers as those whose eyes were 80 percent closed, or covering the pupil at least 12 percent of the time, in the minutes leading up to a crash.
The cameras captured 700 crashes, ranging from minor to severe. Thirty-one percent of the wrecks were deemed severe and resulted in either significant property damage, rollover, airbag deployment, or injury.
Drivers need to make a concerted effort to sleep at least the recommended minimum of seven hours a night. If you realize your car is drifting across lanes, your head or eyelids feel heavy, or you have trouble remembering the last few miles driven, you should not be behind the wheel.
If you encounter this, pull over in the nearest rest stop to take a 20-minute nap. On long drives, take breaks to rest, or alternate driving duty with a well-rested passenger.
If you have been injured by a drowsy driver, the dedicated Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you recover compensation. Our experienced team will investigate your accident and advocate on your behalf to obtain the maximum possible compensation allowable in your case. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation in our Wilmington, Bear or Milford offices.
For the second year in a row, the number of car crash deaths reached over 40,000. According to National Safety Council (NSC) estimates, there were 40,100 U.S. automotive fatalities in 2017. This number is down from 2016 in which there were 40,327 deaths, a one percent decrease. However, the 2017 estimate is six percent higher than the number of deaths from car wrecks in 2015.
The official numbers will be released later this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If the estimates hold up, it will be the steepest two-year increase in more than 50 years. The NSC estimates the cost of motor vehicle deaths, personal injury and property damage at $413.8 billion in 2017.
In 2015, there were 130 crash deaths in Delaware, compared to 119 in 2016 and 119 in 2017. From 2015 to 2017, there was therefore an eight percent decrease. Although this shows improvement, the NSC President and CEO says that there is a lot left to be accomplished in terms of improving roadway safety and decreasing the number of car wrecks.
Many policymakers agree that these crash deaths constitute a public health crisis that must be addressed. The NSC and the NHTSA both work to decrease the number of crashes and resulting injuries and deaths. The NSC spokeswoman says that, according to the estimates, they are not making the progress they had hoped for.
Safety advocates push for the implementation of high-tech safety improvements such as collision avoidance systems and self-driving vehicles. However, the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that in-vehicle technology may be hurting more than helping, as drivers take their eyes off the road for dangerous periods of time when trying to use voice-based and touch screen features.
The AAA research reveals that when programming navigation, drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 40 seconds and most vehicle infotainment systems put high or very high levels of demand on drivers. This contributes to the 3,400 deaths and 391,000 personal injuries due to distracted driving each year, according to the NHTSA.
When someone is injured in a car wreck caused by someone else’s negligence, they may file a personal injury claim to recover damages for the monetary damages associated with their injuries. If that person dies, the personal representative of their estate may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased person’s beneficiaries. Family members may be able to recover damages for funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and benefits, loss of spousal or child support, loss of household services and mental anguish. In Delaware, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the deceased person’s death according to the state statute of limitations.
If your loved one was fatally injured in a wreck due to someone else’s carelessness, you may be entitled to compensation for their preventable death. Contact an experienced Wilmington car accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. We represent clients across Delaware, downstate Delaware, Milford, Wilmington, Bear and New Castle. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-427-9500.
Fatigue is a critical, but often overlooked factor in workplace safety. The effects of sleep deprivation are well known and cited frequently when it comes to issues like drowsy driving. The recommended amount of sleep for most Americans is seven to nine hours every night. Anyone getting less than that is at increased risk for an accident. Research has shown that driving on only four to five hours sleep is the same as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.
The National Safety Council (NSC) launched a fatigue initiative in 2016 aimed at documenting the extent of the problem of tired workers. Next up is the launch of a fatigue calculator that employers can use to gauge the fatigue levels of their employees and the resulting safety risks.
In a survey of 2,000 workers by the NSC, 43 percent of them said they did not get enough sleep every day and 27 percent reported falling asleep at work within the past month. Another 16 percent admitted to having at least one near miss or safety incident due to fatigue. This presents a serious risk for workplace accidents – not only for the workers, but others as well. Fatigue is commonly a driving factor in transportation accidents, including truck accidents, train accidents, and bus accidents.
The NSC is pushing employers to offer sleep health programs to employees and have them screened for sleep disorders, 90 percent of which go untreated. Testing for sleep apnea and other conditions can reveal the source of fatigue for some workers and help them get treatment. Fatigue is often overlooked when it comes to workplace safety programs because it is hard to define the moment when it sets in.
Pushing employers to get on the sleep bandwagon may prove difficult if the CEO is among those who see sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. For many years, high achieving executives have bragged about how little they sleep at night and considered it a factor for getting ahead in life. There is a school of thought that working late instead of sleeping will have a big pay off in the end.
But for those doing safety-critical jobs, fatigue is not an option. Lack of sleep impairs manual dexterity, impedes judgement, and reduces alertness. Some of the most devastating work accidents across the world, including the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, the Russian nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, and the Alaskan Exxon Valdez oil spill, were all fatigue-related.
Another study about fatigue is being conducted at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, by the Illinois based American Society of Safety Engineers. The ongoing study is examining the worker’s perspective on fatigue and whether they recognize when they are tired at work. While not as obvious as other tangible safety hazards, fatigue is just as much of a risk. A worker may not recognize that they are tired, but if a manager does, they should intervene before the worker can put his or herself and other workers in a dangerous situation. Signs of sleep deficit may include irritability, an increase in mistakes at work, and increase in poor decision making, and sudden changes in appearance and/or hygiene.
At Rhoades & Morrow, we have been helping injured workers recover compensation since 1990. If you would like to speak to an experienced Milford Workers’ Compensation lawyer, call 302-422-6705 or contact us online. An initial consultation is always free, and you pay us nothing unless we secure compensation for you.
We have offices in Bear, Milford, and Wilmington and proudly serve clients throughout upstate and downstate Delaware, including those in Kent County, New Castle County, Sussex County, and those in the communities of Dover, Georgetown, Glasgow, Hockessin, Lewes, Middletown, and Newark.
To determine liability in a truck accident, the cause of the accident must first be established. Commercial truck accidents are most often caused by driver error and equipment problems, but there may also be many other contributing factors such as weather conditions, road design, or improperly loaded cargo. Depending on the circumstances of each case, the parties that may be held liable in truck accidents include truck drivers, trucking companies, freight companies, truck or equipment manufacturers, and truck repair shops.
Commercial truck drivers must adhere to the standards set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), including Hours of Service (HOS) rules, vehicle inspections and weight limits. According to the FMCSA, driver error accounts for 88 percent of crashes, and drivers of commercial trucks are 10 times more likely to be the cause of a crash than other factors such as road conditions or vehicle performance.
Drowsy driving is the most common cause of driver error in trucking accidents despite federal regulations limiting the number of hours that truckers can drive in a day. Truck drivers also often fail to adequately monitor their blind spots; cars that are in a trucker’s “no-zone” are 60 percent more likely to be involved in an accident. Other common causes of truck accidents are speeding, improperly taking a curve, or inexperience.
Drug use is another factor that may contribute to driver error. Trucking companies are responsible for testing drivers for alcohol and drug use as a condition of employment, randomly and after an accident involving a fatality. According to an FMCSA study, 44 percent of truckers involved in accidents caused by driver error were taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Trucking companies may be held liable for accidents in which employees were not properly screened for drug use. In accidents involving improperly loaded or overloaded cargo, freight companies that organized the shipments may be held responsible.
Equipment problems account for a large percentage of trucking accidents. Equipment may fail because of a manufacturer’s defect or improper repair. The most common mechanical cause of truck accidents is failure to properly maintain equipment. Such negligence can result in worn out tires, defective steering, transmission failure, defective lighting, or improper trailer attachment. Commercial trucks are equipped with special parts and technology not found in passenger vehicles; therefore, there are more opportunities for problems to arise.
Commercial trucks are often equipped with devices that record data that may be helpful in the wake of an accident. Investigators can analyze data from such high-tech equipment when attempting to determine liability. Also, certified truck inspectors are required by law to inspect the truck and trailer involved in the accident before they are removed from the scene. The inspector will then create and submit a report which may then be obtained from the appropriate government agency.
If you have been injured, or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one in a truck accident, contact an experienced Milford truck accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. Our knowledgeable, resourceful lawyers can help determine liability and hold negligent parties responsible. With offices conveniently located in Milford, Wilmington, and Bear, Delaware, we serve clients in both upstate and downstate Delaware. Contact us online or call us at 302-422-6705 to schedule a free consultation.
The beginning signs of whiplash may not always be obvious. Although many times whiplash starts as neck soreness or stiffness, other symptoms can also be a sign of a soft-tissue injury to your neck and body. Sometimes it can start as dizziness, headache, blurred vision, shoulder or arm pain, tingling sensations, cognitive difficulties, sleep disturbance, or fatigue.
After an accident, it is important to seek medical attention, not only for your own health and well-being, but also to document the nature of your injuries. Certain injuries are not immediately apparent and establishing a relationship with a doctor who is aware of your accident is important. Additionally, if the injuries are left untreated, they could worsen.
Additionally, people may have the incorrect idea that whiplash cannot occur because of low-speed car accidents. These types of injuries can occur at low speeds and the injury may vary in severity depending on the position of the person’s head at the time of the accident. If the person’s head was turned to the side or back, the injury could be much more complex than if the driver was looking forward.
Whiplash is also known in the medical and legal fields as a hyperextension and hyperflexion injury because of the movement of the neck, also known as a myofascial injury or a cervical strain or sprain. Although these types of injuries are usually associated with auto accidents, they can also be a result of other incidents such as sports accidents, intentional assaults, skiing or snowboarding accidents, repetitive stress injuries at work, child abuse, or slip and fall accidents in homes or public places.
These injuries could be complicated since they often affect the body’s connective tissue, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If the neck is injured during impact or trauma, the same type of injury can also occur in the mid or lower back and result in muscle sprains or spasms. These types of back injuries could be even more complex than those involving the neck, since the entire spine could have been subjected to trauma.
The Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can assist you if you have suffered whiplash because of an accident or any other type of personal injury. We are easily accessible in Delaware with three locations in Willington, Bear, or Milford, Delaware. We also serve Dover, Lewes, Georgetown, Hockessin, and all communities in the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. You may reach us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, drowsy driving is the cause of up to 100,000 accidents per year, resulting in an estimated 1,500 fatalities and 40,000 injuries. This statistic is especially problematic for semi-truck drivers, who, because of their demanding driving schedules, are at an increased risk of drowsy driving. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine Sleep Medicine Division reveals that nearly half of semi-truck driver participants admitted to drifting off while driving a long-haul route.
Over-the-road truck drivers are often under pressure to meet deadlines by driving up to 11 hours a day. Experts have found similarities between drowsy driving and intoxicated driving in terms of impaired judgment, reaction times and visual acuity. This is dangerous not only for truck drivers but also for other drivers on the road, particularly because commercial trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds whereas the average passenger vehicle which weighs between 2,000 and 4,000 pounds. This disparity contributes to a sobering statistic: in 98 percent of fatal accidents involving a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle, the person in the passenger vehicle was the one who was fatally injured.
The United States Department of Transportation and other agencies have responded to this concern by imposing limitations on the number of hours semi-truck drivers can drive before taking mandatory breaks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studied the root of many drowsy driving fatal accidents and found that up to 28 percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects breathing during sleep and can lead to decreased performance in everyday activities such as driving.
Symptoms of sleep apnea involve constant daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, memory issues and disturbed sleep, including choking or gasping for air and excessive snoring. If untreated, it can lead to headaches, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart failure. Federal Regulations prohibit a truck driver from driving if they have moderate to severe sleep apnea. However, those with undiagnosed sleep apnea may not realize that is what is causing them to fall asleep at the wheel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes some warning signs of drowsy driving, including frequent blinking or yawning, drifting into another lane, missing an exit, and difficulty remembering the last few miles driven. Drowsy driving can occur not only because of sleep apnea but also from a lack of sleep. For optimal functioning, most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a day.
Drowsy driving is the leading cause of truck accidents. If you have been injured because a truck driver was falling asleep while driving, contact the experienced Milford truck accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. We engage in aggressive advocacy, helping to ensure that negligent parties are held responsible and that clients obtain maximum compensation for their injuries so they can recover and return to their normal lives. We represent clients in both upstate and downstate Delaware and our truck accident lawyers are available to provide you with a free consultation. Contact us online or call our Wilmington office at 302-427-9500, our Bear office at 302-834-8484, or our Milford office at 302-422-6705.
Research suggests that teens who start school later experience numerous significant physical and emotional benefits. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens should not start the school day before 8:30 a.m. for optimum mental and physical well-being. Numerous other researchers recommend the later start day so as to avoid car accidents.
Teens are known for sleeping – a lot. But they may be getting a bad rap. Teens are not being lazy or irresponsible by sleeping in often. Teens experience biological shifts in their sleeping patterns during adolescence, making them more likely to stay up later and sleep in longer. The demands of school, jobs, sports, and social connections also keep teens from getting the valuable sleep their changing minds and bodies need.
Significant physical and emotional changes take place during the teen years, all fueled and sustained by sleep. Teens aged 13 – 18 need eight to 10 hours of sleep every night, but most are not getting nearly enough. The National Sleep Foundation reports that only 15 percent of teens report getting at least eight and a half hours of sleep on school nights.
According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, around one in four high school students say they have fallen asleep in class. If they cannot stay awake, how can they excel? Lack of sleep directly affects a person’s ability to concentrate, react, and make decisions. Teens are not prepared to perform their best in the classroom and the sports field without enough sleep. Emotionally, sleep-deprived teens are more prone to emotional issues like sadness and depression.
There are serious safety concerns for teens who do not sleep enough. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and is considered just as dangerous as driving intoxicated. Drowsy driving causes thousands of car accidents in Delaware every year. Half of teens surveyed by the National Sleep Foundation said they have driven drowsy in the past year. Fifteen percent said they drive drowsy once a week.
Any person that is not well-rested is more prone to accidents and injuries. When you add in inexperienced teen drivers, the risk of motor vehicle accidents increases greatly. One study on the subject cited a 16.5 percent decrease in car accidents among teens that started school an hour later than the national average.
Teens are also more prone to making dangerous choices both because of changes in the brain in how they process risks and rewards, and because of the overwhelming peer pressure to which they are exposed. Without enough sleep, teens are more inclined to make poor choices.
Based on all of the information available about how crucial sleep is to a teen’s health and well-being, many experts recommend starting the school day later. Starting the day before 8:30 a.m. prevents teens from getting all of the sleep they need to function at their best, which could result in car accidents while these new drivers make their commute to school.
Drowsy drivers cause countless accidents on roads across the country every year. If you or a loved one has been injured by another’s negligence, contact the Wilmington car accident lawyers at the law firm of Rhoades & Morrow at 302-427-9500. You can also complete our simple online contact form. Bear wrongful death lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow handle all personal injury and work injury cases throughout Delaware, including Wilmington, Hockessin, Newark, Glasgow, Bear, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Georgetown, and Seaford, as well as any other community in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County.