On Tuesday, July 29, 26-year-old Jesse Rios was taking a morning jog near his home in southwest Bakersfield. At the same time, 29-year-old Eliseo Soto was driving home after reportedly working a 12-hour shift, police said.
Soto allegedly fell asleep behind the wheel, jumped a curb in his truck and fatally struck Rios. Rios, the sole provider for his family, left behind his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
The Bakersfield-based wrongful death law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which is representing the Rios family in their personal injury case, is reminding drivers this week — Drowsy Driving Prevention Week — to think twice before getting behind the wheel while tired.
The week-long campaign — promoted annually by the National Sleep Foundation, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 8 this year — hopes to lower the number of motor vehicle accidents due to fatigue, and ultimately make the roads a safer place overall. The campaign also provides public education about the under-reported risks of driving while drowsy and countermeasures to improve safety on the road.
Don’t think it’s an important issue? Consider these stats and facts:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 reported crashes are the result of driver fatigue each year.
- These crashes result in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
- 60 percent of adult drivers say they’ve driven while tired in the past year, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And 13 percent say they have nodded off while driving at least once a month.
- There is no test to determine sleepiness as there is for intoxication.
- Sleep deprivation increases the risk of a sleep-related crashes. In other words, the less people sleep, the greater the risk.
Here are some tips courtesy of car accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the National Sleep Foundation. Before you drive, consider if you are:
- Sleep-deprived or fatigued. Six hours of sleep or less triples your risk.
- Suffering from sleep loss (insomnia) or poor quality sleep.
- Driving long distances without proper rest breaks.
- Driving through the night, mid-afternoon or when you would normally be asleep.
- Taking sedating medications such as antidepressants, cold tablets or antihistamines.
- Working more than 60 hours a week. This increases your risk of crashing by 40 percent.
- Working more than one job and your main job involves shift work.
- Drinking even small amounts of alcohol.
- Driving alone or on a long, rural, dark or boring road.
And to make sure you avoid sleep-related accidents and crashes, make sure you follow this advice:
- Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the highway.
- Don’t be in a hurry to arrive to your destination.
- Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to help get refreshed.
- Use the buddy system to keep you awake and share driving duties.
- Avoid alcohol and medication that may cause drowsiness or have side effects.
- Don’t drive when you would normally be sleeping.
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident and you suspect the persona at fault fell asleep, it’s important to contact an attorney. The car accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are experienced in such cases. Call the law firm at 661-323-4000 or visit the website Chainlaw.com.