Liability for Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is the act of driving when you feel sleepy. Although this may sound harmless, the CDC believes that drowsy driving can have similar effects to drunk driving since both impair your vision and affect your ability to make good decisions[1].

Further cementing the danger, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drowsy driving was responsible for 91,000 accidents with 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths in a single year[2]. Even these numbers are thought to be underreported.

Proving liability in a drowsy driving accident:

Proving that a driver is a drowsy driver can be difficult as there is no measurement of sleepiness that police officers can take at the scene like they can with drunk drivers. Fortunately for attorneys, there doesn’t need to be proof that the driver is drowsy, just that he was negligent.

In legal terms, a negligent driver is someone who fails to uphold a duty of care. This means that drivers must take reasonable precautions to avoid actions which could foreseeably harm another person. A few examples of negligent driving would be:

- Swerving between lanes

- Tailgating

- Crossing the Double Yellow

- Running a light or stop sign

Any of these acts could foreseeably cause harm to another person, which means that if a driver does any of these, they are negligent whether or not they are drowsy.

Characteristics of Drowsy Driving:

Drowsy driving accidents often have specific characteristics. A common trait of drowsy driving accidents is the lack of skid marks because the liable driver did not take any evasive actions. Often drowsy drivers won’t or can’t take evasive actions because they are sleeping and don’t react quickly enough. The lack of evasive maneuvers can make the accident worse. Common drowsy driving accidents are:

- Rear-end collisions

- Lane-change collisions

- Head-on collisions

- Any accident at early or late hours

Risk Factors:

There are many risk factors for drowsy driving. A common one is working late. If you worked a long shift and have to drive home late at night or early in the morning, you’re most likely to drive drowsy. Having an irregular sleep schedule can also cause drowsy driving. Commercial truck drivers are at an especially substantial risk of drowsy driving due to the fact that they are constantly on the road and may have highly irregular sleep schedules.

Other risk factors include sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy which can cause you to fall asleep at random times during the day. People who take medications like antidepressants and antihistamines that can cause drowsiness are also at an increased risk of drowsy driving.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, contact the lawyers at Kirsch, Stone & Morgan today.

[1] “Dangers of Drowsy Driving.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Nov. 2022,

[2] “Drowsy Driving | NHTSA.” NHTSA,