Is there a way to tell if fatigue contributed to an accident?

After a serious accident, one of the first things victims and their families want to know is what caused the crash. Figuring this out can be quite complicated in some cases. Witnesses must be questioned, cellphone records should be examined and tests should be conducted to determine impairment by drugs or alcohol.

These are all ways to establish factors like reckless driving, intoxication or cellphone distraction. However, other causes of accidents can be more difficult identify. Fatigue, for example, cannot necessarily be recorded or measured. And unless someone is riding in the car with a drowsy driver, it can be all but impossible to spot the physical signs of drowsiness before an accident. But there are characteristics of drowsy driving accidents that you can look for after a crash.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are many indications that fatigue may have led to or contributed to an accident.

  • Time of the accident: Drowsy driving is more likely to occur late at night
  • Location of the accident: Drivers who fall asleep are more likely to leave the roadway, and fatigue can set in when people are on straight, high-speed roads.
  • Absence of corrective efforts: A drowsy or sleeping driver will not be able to react in time to stop or slow down in many cases. This means the accidents often occur at high speeds and there may be no indication that a driver ever tried to brake.
  • Severity of the accident: Because sleeping drivers are not always able to slow down, swerve, brake or otherwise react in the seconds before a crash, the impact is often catastrophic.

Understanding the characteristics of fatigued driving (as well as distracted, drunk and reckless driving) can be crucial when determining liability after a crash. Accident victims often don’t know what to look for in these situations, which is why it can be so important to discuss a specific case with an attorney familiar with all types of motor vehicle accidents.