Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as distracted driving or even drinking and driving. However, like distracted driving, many people end up driving drowsy without even thinking about it. Driving while sleep-deprived takes our attention away from the road in front of us, slowing reaction time, or even risking falling asleep while driving.
When getting into a Lyft or Uber ride, passengers expect the driver to be aware of their limits and be able to drive with their full attention on the road. Unfortunately, many ride-share drivers are driving while tired, distracted, or both. This puts passengers and others on the road at risk of a serious injury or accident.
If you were involved in an accident with a rideshare driver who was not paying attention to the road, contact an experienced Colorado auto accident lawyer who understands how to deal with the rideshare and insurance companies to get you the maximum compensation. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your case, deal with Lyft or Uber and the insurance company after an injury accident in Colorado. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Drowsy Driving Accidents in Colorado
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 91,000 motor vehicle crashes involving drowsy driving in 2017, killing 795 people. Drowsy driving crashes can happen anywhere and at any time, but often occur:
- Between midnight and 6 a.m.,
- Late in the afternoon,
- On rural roads,
- On highways, and
- Involve a single driver at a high rate of speed.
According to a survey by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness is much higher than federal estimates. Almost 10% of all crashes involved drowsiness, much higher than the federal estimate of 1% or 2%. The AAA study looked at dashcam footage instead of relying on admissions from the drivers.
One reason drowsy driving accidents may be so underreported is that drivers may be unwilling to admit that they were falling asleep at the wheel or drivers may have been unaware they were too tired to drive. Unlike drunk driving, there is no generally accepted test to find out whether drivers may have been impaired by fatigue in an accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1/3rd of U.S. drivers get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep nightly. Almost 1/3rd of drivers have also reported being so tired that they found it hard to keep their eyes open within the past month.
Staying Alert While Driving
No tips or tricks will take the place of getting a good night's sleep. Many “tips” for driving while tired just mask the symptoms of drowsy driving. The most important tip for avoiding a drowsy driving accident is to recognize when you are overly tired and get off the road to get some rest before resuming your trip.
Signs of drowsy driving are similar to those involving drunk driving or distracted driving, and may include:
- Having trouble keeping your eyes open,
- Drifting in and out of the lane,
- Being startled by rumble strips, or
- Not remembering the last few minutes driving.
Rolling down the window, singing out loud, or even drinking coffee will not replace quality sleep. If you find yourself falling asleep, try taking a break at a rest stop or parking lot for a 20-minute nap.
Drowsy Driving for Rideshare Drivers
Rideshare companies know they are taking customers for a ride and customers have to rely on Lyft and Uber to make sure their drivers are operating the vehicles safely. Drivers should be aware of the threat of drowsy driving, be able to identify when they are too tired to drive, and stop offering rides when drowsy.
Unfortunately, experience has shown that the rideshare companies are not doing enough to prevent drowsy driving accidents and drivers cannot be relied on to police themselves to avoid drowsy or distracted driving. When a rideshare driver is not able to drive safely and gets into an accident, the driver, insurance company, and rideshare company should be held accountable for their negligence.
Why are Rideshare Drivers Prone to Drowsy Driving?
Anyone can be prone to driving while drowsy whenever they are behind the wheel after not getting enough sleep. However, rideshare drivers may be more susceptible to drowsy driving compared to the average driver. Drowsy driving may be one of the inherent risks of having rideshare drivers on the road.
Some of the reasons why ride-sharing drivers may be more prone to drowsy driving accidents include:
- Ride-sharing drivers may be drowsy and distracted;
- Inexperienced ride-sharing drivers may not recognize drowsy driving signs;
- Ride-sharing drivers work nights and early mornings; and
- Ride-sharing drivers are working second jobs; and
- Lack of ride-share company mandated safety training.
Ride-Sharing Drivers May Be Drowsy and Distracted
Drowsy driving and distracted driving can both be dangerous. For rideshare drivers, they may be driving both while distracted and drowsy. Distracted driving takes your attention away from driving and drowsy driving may make it more difficult for drivers to adjust back and forth between looking at the map on their phone and the road ahead.
Inexperienced Ride-Sharing Drivers May Not Recognize Drowsy Driving Signs
Most rideshare drivers are normal people without any additional training or experience other than having their license for a few years. Inexperienced drivers may just think that yawning or feeling drowsy are normal effects of driving for a couple of hours. However, recognizing drowsy driving is an important step in avoiding putting yourself and others at risk of an accident.
Ride-Sharing Drivers Work Nights and Early Morning
Many rideshare drivers drive during peak times, especially evenings and into the early morning hours. Many of the passengers are going out to dinner or having drinks and are looking to get a safe ride home. This can make it a peak time for Lyft or Uber drivers to pick up passengers leaving bars to go home. This is also a peak time for drowsy driving.
A weekend night out with friends can involve dinner, drinks, and maybe a visit to a brewery or distillery before heading home at 11 p.m. or midnight. Last call for most bars in Denver is 1:30 a.m., leaving a lot of patrons seeking rides between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Others may go to get something to eat after leaving the bars, finally heading home around 3 a.m.
Another peak time for drivers is the early morning weekday hours when residents and business people head to DEN airport for an early morning flight. A 7 a.m. flight may require getting picked up at 5:00 a.m. to get to the airport in time to get through security and get on the flight. Many Lyft and Uber drivers doing airport runs start going active on the app at 4 a.m. to get the morning business passengers.
Ride-Sharing Drivers Are Working Second Jobs
While some ride-share drivers are retired, stay-at-home parents, or just looking for something to do on the side, a number of rideshare drivers are working second or 3rd jobs. Driving for Uber or Lyft is a way for many to supplement the family income or save for a vacation. However, this may mean the rideshare driver is not getting enough sleep.
After an 8-hour day on the job, taking care of kids and family responsibilities, the rideshare driver may be only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night or less. Many people claim they only need a certain number of hours of sleep but research shows that not getting enough sleep can compromise driver safety.
Lack of Ride-Share Company Mandated Safety Training
Truck drivers are held to strict driving-hour limits, for safety reasons. Professional drivers undergo a lot of training, including learning how to drive safely, with behind-the-wheel training and testing. Lyft and Uber do not require such rigorous training or testing but are still able to transport passengers on the road.
Lyft and Uber claim they take steps to ensure safe driving but their training requirements do not adequately teach drivers to understand drowsy driving, take steps to reduce drowsy driving, identify when they are too tired to drive, or take drivers off the road who are not getting enough sleep.
After a Drowsy Lyft or Uber Driver is Involved in an Accident
After an accident with a Lyft or Uber driver, it may be difficult to tell if the driver was distracted or drowsy at the time. The driver may deny being tired or say that drowsy driving was not a contributing factor to the accident. Even if other passengers had previously reported the driver for falling asleep at the wheel, the rideshare company is not likely to share that information with you. Talk to your Denver accident attorney about a possibly drowsy driver who caused the accident.
Ridesharing Accident Injury Lawyers
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented their clients and families in Colorado Springs, Aurora, and throughout the Denver area who were involved in a car accident with a Lyft or Uber driver. Our attorneys understand how the ridesharing and insurance companies operate and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.