The driver of a commercial truck that drifted into the opposite lane and struck a car travelling in the other direction—killing two Salt Lake City area residents—was arrested after the crash, and an investigation is now underway to determine if vehicular homicide charges should be filed. A Wyoming Highway Patrol spokesperson suggested that driver fatigue was being looked at as one of the potential causes of the crash.
The crash, which took the lives of a husband and wife who were driving their teen sons to a Denver hockey tournament, happened south of Laramie, Wyoming. They died at the scene after the truck collided with their vehicle head on. The boys survived the accident and were taken to a nearby hospital, where one was treated for a broken leg and a broken arm while the other was treated for internal injuries. Both were able to return to their home town of Sandy, Utah, within two days.
Different researchers have come up with different numbers for how many crashes, injuries, and fatalities are caused each year by drivers who haven’t had enough sleep. A review of records in a national crash database performed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that since 2005, most years have seen between 800 and 900 fatal accidents (around 2.5 percent of the total) and around 37,000 injuries that could be directly linked to drowsy drivers.
But another study in 2009, which looked specifically at the drowsy-driving problem, estimated that the numbers could be significantly higher: possibly up to 1.2 million crashes, half a million injuries, and 8,000 fatalities annually.
Regardless of the precise numbers, everyone agrees: Driving without enough sleep is dangerous. A new report released this month by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has gone a step further and tried to quantify just how dangerous.
The AAA study found that sleepy drivers present a huge risk to the rest of us: They account for 7 percent of all crashes, 13 percent of all crash-related hospitalizations, and 21 percent of all crash fatalities. But the study determined that, based on a recommended good night’s sleep of seven hours, missing just one or two hours of sleep nearly doubles the risk of being in a crash. Skipping two to three hours of sleep time increased the risk by a factor of four. And for those drivers who had slept less than four hours, the risk skyrocketed to 11.5 times normal.
Even for people who sleep less as a rule, the numbers were similar: Shorting their regular sleep amounts led to the same kind of increased risks.
Our hearts go out to Bob and Dawn Wright, the Salt Lake area couple who died in the Wyoming crash, and to their sons, Kyle and Karson, who are still recovering from their injuries. This crash was a tragedy that devastated a family, and the damage cannot be undone.
If you or someone close to you is ever the victim of a similar accident, it’s important to contact an attorney who can help you recover damages from the person who caused the crash. The cost of medical bills, lost wages and income, and other expenses associated with this sort of crash can be enormous, and you and your family need to be protected.
At Craig Swapp & Associates, we’re familiar with the practice of truck accident law, and we offer a free consultation to all clients. Call us at 1-800-404-9000 or reach us online through the form below to schedule an appointment. You can also launch the LiveChat feature from any page of this website for quick answers to many of your questions.