The Dangers of Fatigued Driving for Hoosiers

Do you know that driving while drowsy or fatigued is just as dangerous as drinking and driving? Find out why fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel accounts for 29.3% of serious injury collisions in Indiana a year -those with at least one fatal or incapacitating injury.

dangerous driving habits

If you are like most Americans, you don’t get enough sleep. A quick cup of morning coffee and you are out on the road, along with hundreds of other sleepy motorists. This scenario is putting you (and the drivers around you) in a dangerous situation each and every day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year, over 100,000 police-reported crashes involve drowsy driving. In 2015 alone, an estimated 5,000 people died in crashes where drowsy driving is the culprit, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report.

We know fatigued driving affects everyone on the road, both drivers and passengers. In Indiana, drowsy driving is classified as impaired driving, which falls under the greater umbrella of distracted driving, accounting for the largest percentage of the majority of accidents and injuries each year.

A recent report examining Hoosier driving behavior notes that drivers’ unsafe actions are the primary cause of crashes, resulting in 111,298 accidents. Indiana State Police finds fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel accounts for 29.3% of these serious injury collisions -those with at least one fatal or incapacitating injury.

Why Drowsy Driving Is Impaired Driving

GHSA research shows nearly 83.6 million people are sleep deprived in the workplace, at school and on the road. Why is drowsy driving considered impaired driving? Consider this:

  • fatigue slows reaction time
  • drowsiness impairs situational awareness and judgment
  • fatigue increases risk-taking and lapses of attention
  • driving while drowsy or fatigued is just as dangerous as drinking and driving

We regularly see how all of these factors have extremely detrimental effects on the driver’s ability to control a vehicle, accounting for more than 71,000 injuries each year. According to the National Safety Council, fatigue-related crashes involving fatalities or injuries cost society $109 billion each year.

Drowsy Driving and Indiana Law

In Indiana, laws intended to discourage drowsy driving generally concentrate on the connection between fatigued driving and alcohol consumption. These measures have saved lives and money in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.

  • Administrative License Revocation – These laws allow police and driver license authorities to automatically revoke a person’s license for refusing or failing a BAC test (blood alcohol test).
  • Zero Tolerance Laws – In Indiana, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to drive with a positive BAC. It is estimated that these laws have reduced impaired-driving fatalities by 4%.
  • .08 BAC Law – By lowering the BAC limit to .08, impaired driving fatalities have reduced by 7%.
  • Graduated Licensing – Young drivers must demonstrate responsible driving habits to advance between the three-stage licensing program from a learner’s permit, to an intermediate or provisional license, to full licensure.

Drivers More Likely To Be Fatigued

A majority of drowsy drivers fall into a short list of categories. These include:

  • Drivers who do not get enough sleep
  • Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as semi-trucks, tow trucks and buses
  • Shift workers, especially those working a night shift or swing shift
  • Drivers with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
  • Drivers who use medications that treat sleeplessness or insomnia

Be Aware of the Warning Signs of Fatigued Driving

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is crucial that you get off the road and stop driving:

  • Yawning or blinking frequently
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  • Missing your exit
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
  • Falling asleep, even for a moment

Take Step to Dodge Drowsy Driving

The best way to ensure that you are not the cause of a drowsy driving accident is to avoid driving drowsy in the first place. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers this advice:

  • The only true way to avoid drowsy driving is to get enough sleep. Experts urge the public to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel for a long car trip.= or any kind.
  • Teenagers are especially vulnerable to drowsy driving as they typically don’t get enough sleep at a time when they biologically need more sleep than adults. Encourage your teens to get enough sleep before operating a vehicle.
  • Do not drink alcohol before driving. Alcohol increases drowsiness and impairs motor coordination.
  • Read your prescription labels. Most labels include information on whether or not the medication can cause drowsiness.
  • Try to avoid the peak fatigue times of midnight to 6:00 am and late afternoon.

Interventions for Drowsy Driving

While everyone should follow steps to avoid drowsy driving, it is also necessary to put interventions in place. We know this is especially true for male drivers under the age of 25, who make up an estimated 50% of drowsy driving crashes. Initiatives to consider:

  • Crash avoidance technologies – Safety technologies, both existing and planned, include drowsiness alert and lane departure warnings. These technologies can detect patterns of drowsy driving and warn drivers to stay in their lane or take a break.
  • University interventions – As college students represent a major portion of the under 25 driving demographic, education programs created for students may help raise awareness of drowsy driving issues. College students receive less sleep with some estimates at less than six hours a night. Educating these students now helps build better behaviors that will last into adulthood.
  • Workplace education – Employers with strong health and safety programs, both on and off the job, can contribute to employees getting sufficient information on the dangers of fatigued driving.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of a drowsy driving accident, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

Buckle up, Indiana! Click It or Ticket Raises Seat Belt Awareness

Wearing a seat belt not only protects drivers and passengers, this Indiana law saves Hoosier lives.

click it or ticket

Police are out in increased numbers to enforce Indiana’s mandatory seat belt laws. Participating in the national Click It or Ticket campaign, Indiana law enforcement is working overtime, giving citations to drivers who fail to wear seat belts while driving or riding in vehicles.

The overtime pay for officers is covered by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 230 law enforcement agencies in Indiana participate in the annual campaign, patrolling day and night to bring awareness of seat belt safety to drivers and passengers, both in front seats and in the back.

Seat Belts Save Hoosiers

Seat belts protect drivers and passengers, even in non-serious crashes. “These are crashes that, when you look at the vehicle, you think someone maybe got a little banged up, and then you find out they were killed because they got ejected,” Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten tells local Indianapolis radio station WIBC. “No one plans on being in a crash. But crashes happen. And once the crash happens, you can’t freeze-frame and put your seat belt on to protect yourself. You do that by putting it on as soon as you get in the car before you pull out to drive.”

Seat Belts Decrease the Likelihood of Death

Drivers of cars and SUVs who are unrestrained by seat belts are 10 times more likely to die in a crash than those wearing a seat belt. The number rises to 14 times more likely for drivers of pick-up trucks and 15 times more likely for drivers of vans.

Lt. Jefferey Paine of the Indiana State Police tells local Indianapolis news station WTHR, “It is absolutely heartbreaking to see the aftermath of a crash where a fatality could have been prevented by wearing a seat belt. Click It or Ticket is more than an enforcement campaign, it is an educational effort to increase seat belt use and decrease fatal crashes.”

Younger Male Drivers More At Risk

Male drivers aged 15 to 44, especially those under 25, are most likely to not be wearing a seatbelt at the time of a crash, according to State Police. Injury rates for unrestrained drivers and passengers are also higher:

  • in rural counties
  • when a driver is speeding or impaired
  • on weekend nights between the hours of 11:00 pm and 4:00 am

In fact, Indiana motorists are more likely to suffer property damage, injuries or death from a traffic accident than to experience a burglary, to be the victim of a violent crime or to be murdered.

seatbelt statistics

Click It or Ticket Through the Years

Prior to 1980, seat belt usage in the United States averages about 11%. In 1980, small campaigns to increase seat belt usage begin to pop up. Individual organizations, public education programs, incentives and policy changes work to change perceptions. However, without any actual laws on the books, these efforts only make a slight difference. By 1984, seat belt usage only climbs four percentage points.

New York becomes the first state to enact mandatory seat belt laws in 1984 and by 1990 an additional 37 states have seat belt laws on the books. At the time, most of these states have “secondary seat belt laws,” meaning an officer would first have to have pulled over a vehicle for another violation before citing the lack of seat belt use. Even so, the national rate of seat belt usage climbs from 15% to 50%.

The Click It or Ticket campaign begins as a statewide effort in 1993 when North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt launches it in conjunction with a “primary enforcement safety belt law,” which allows officers to issue seat belt citations without first observing another offense. Other states follow and in 2002 the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration starts the first national campaign.

Enforcing for Safety

The campaign has been deemed a success by its backers. The U.S. Department of Transportation releases a statement in May 2003, “National belt use among young men and women ages 16-24 moved from 65% to 72%, and 73% to 80% respectively, while belt use in the overall population increased from 75% to 79%.”

In 2018, the 230 agencies involved with enforcing the Click It or Ticket campaign in Indiana put in nearly 29,000 hours of overtime to crack down on seat belt violations and write 32,000 citations and warnings.

Make Sure You are Properly Buckled

Indiana State Police provides reminders on how to properly “buckle up”:

  • Secure the lap belt across your hips and pelvis, below your stomach.
  • Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and rib cage, away from your neck.
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
  • If your seat belt doesn’t fit you, or you have an older car with lap belts only, ask your dealer or vehicle manufacturer about seat-belt adjusters, extenders or retrofits.

Senior Trooper Nick Klinghammer of the Indiana State Police tells local Indianapolis station RTV6, “Most times you’re involved in a crash, it’s within five to10 miles of your house, so hopefully we prevented something here. If you don’t click it, you’ll get a ticket.”

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you have been involved with a seat belt violation, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Indianapolis Drivers Leaving the Scene of Auto Accidents

In 2007, four hit and run auto accidents claim a person’s life in Marion County. By 2016, that number jumps to 20 – and continues to rise.

personal injury attorney

On a Friday night in May 2019, a man is killed on the near west side of Indianapolis. According to Indianapolis Metro Police, a dark-colored passenger car slams into his Ford F-150 while he is likely lying underneath, working on the pickup outside of his home on West Michigan Avenue.

The driver of the car takes off on foot and the man, unidentified and transported to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition, is pronounced dead on arrival. Neighbors express surprise that someone would be working underneath a vehicle on this very busy road, particularly after dark.

Hit and run auto accidents such as this are not only tragic, they are all too common – especially here in Indianapolis where reports of drivers leaving the scene of auto accidents continue to rise.

More Hit and Run Investigations

Three Injured on the Near East Side. Fox 59 reports in April 2019 on a hit and run accident that causes serious bodily injury to three unnamed adults. The incident involves three vehicles and occurs around 3:40 A.M. at E. 38th Street and Arquette Drive. Police are still searching for the suspect, who was driving a green 2001 Chevrolet Silverado, according to witnesses at the scene.

11-Year-Old Girl Injured. An accident on the eastside of Indianapolis leaves police searching for the driver, according to RTV6. Rickonna Dixson and her 11-year-old daughter are waiting on East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive to turn into the Kroger at the Twin Aire Shopping Center. Rickonna recalls looking in her rearview mirror and seeing a truck she thinks is moving too fast. When that truck slams into her, the impact is so hard it pushes her into oncoming traffic where she is struck by a van.

“When we were hit, all I could think about was my daughter in the back seat,” Rickonna says. “It’s a miracle, really a miracle, that my daughter made it. She has half of her ear missing. My car is totaled.” Police are still looking for the driver of the 1997 black Dodge Ram that hits them.

Leaving the Scene of An Indianapolis Auto Accident Costs More

A Fox 59 investigation finds a sharp increase in the number of hit and run car accidents after analyzing crash reports obtained from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department (IMPD). “In 2016, there were 5,049 hit and runs reported to IMPD; 543 of them involved injuries. The next year, that number jumped to 5,539 hit and run reports. The number of injuries jumped as well, to 594. By October of 2018, IMPD had already written up 4,236 hit and run reports with 398 of those reports involving injuries.”

In the face of more hit and run accidents than ever, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recently signed a bill into law creating more serious penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a crash. Now, a hit and run that results in a fatality is considered to be a Level 5 felony. Before, drivers thought they would see more leniency in sentencing after leaving the scene. Today, the law clearly states that running will result in a more serious punishment.

14 Hit-and-Run Accidents a Day in Marion County? The Number Is Rising

Analyzing data records for Marion County, a noticeable spike in the total number of hit-and-run incidents is revealed. In 2007 there were a total of 5,315 hit and run accidents reported, and that number stays pretty consistent for the next seven years.

The total number jumped in 2015 to 6,016, then 7,603 in 2016 and 7,038 in 2017. That’s a 117% increase in the total number of accidents from 2014-2015 and a 126% increase from 2015-2016.

Even in the year with the lowest number of incidents (4,908 in 2011), there is still an average of 14 hit and run accidents per day. And that number appears to be on the rise.

indianapolis car accident

Reasons Drivers Leave the Scene of An Auto Accident

Why would someone leave the scene of an accident? After all, it’s unlawful and irresponsible, not to mention inhumane. The most common reasons include:

  • The driver has legal problems unrelated to the crash and does not want to have to deal with the police when they come to investigate
  • There is a warrant for the driver’s arrest
  • The driver is drunk or high
  • The driver does not have a driver’s license
  • The driver does not have current auto insurance
  • The driver is experiencing an emergency
  • Simple fear or panic

Hit-and-Runs Resulting in Injury

Fortunately, most hit and run accidents do not cause personal injury. There can still be great cost associated with a hit and run, including property damage and emotional distress. Even just focusing on the number of accidents with injury, the number is rising along with the number of total accidents.

For instance, in 2007 there were 624 hit and run accidents resulting in injury. The numbers hover around that until 2016, when they jump to 801. Then, in 2017, the number drops back slightly to 741. There was a 116% increase from 2014 to 2015 and a 129% increase from 2015 to 2016.

Hit-and-Runs Resulting in Death

The most shocking jump in numbers when analyzing the Marion County data is the number of hit and run accidents resulting in death. In 2007, only four hit-and-run auto accidents claimed a person’s life. By 2014 that number jumped to 14 and then jumped to 20 in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, of the 120 fatal hit and run accidents over the past 11 years, nearly half (45.83%) occurred in the last three years.

At Karpe Litigation, we’re all too familiar with the pain and suffering that can be caused by a hit and run auto accident. If you should ever find yourself in a situation where you have caused an accident, make sure to remain on the scene.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you are a victim of a hit and run auto accident, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

What Indiana is Doing to Lower Percentage of Uninsured Drivers

Ranking eighth among states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, Indiana institutes “no pay, no play” laws that discourage driving with no insurance by penalizing repeat offenders.

As the average number of uninsured motorists (UM) continues to increase across America, many state governments remain concerned about the percentage of uninsured drivers in their own states – including Indiana. Many are implementing measures to help lower the averages, after studies reveal the cost to insured drivers has climbed 75% over the past 10 years.

According to InsuranceJournal.com, insured drivers or their insurance companies must pay for physical damages and health costs from an accident when an uninsured driver is at fault. What’s more, if the driver is under-insured, their policy limits may not be high enough to cover all costs.

With approximately 32 million uninsured drivers on the road (about 13% of all drivers nationwide still do not carry insurance), states like Indiana have implemented random insurance verification checks and no pay, no play laws that limit the ability of uninsured drivers to seek compensation in the event of an accident. The most current data from the Insurance Information Institute finds Indiana ranks eight among states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, increasing to 16.7% from 16.0% in 2009. For comparison, Maine -which ranks 51- is one of 24 states that requires drivers to have uninsured motorist insurance. Maine also has one of the highest bodily injury liability insurance requirements of any state, at $50,000 per person.

How Fault Works in Indiana 

There’s no denying that car accidents can be expensive. The damage to your car means you will need to repair it or replace it. These things take time and you will most likely have to rent a car in order to get to work. If your injuries are extensive, you may end up missing work or be unable to return to work altogether. There are costs involved in medical treatment, follow-up therapy, medical equipment and prescription medications.

For these reasons, it is important to have insurance. Indiana law requires drivers to demonstrate “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle. In most cases, this boils down to Hoosiers purchasing car insurance.

When looking at financial responsibility and recovery, it is important to consider how fault works in Indiana. Indiana employs a “comparative fault” standard for personal injury cases.  Payment of an auto accident claimant’s total monetary damages is reduced by the percentage a jury finds the claimant at fault.  Further, Indiana automobile accident claimants will not be compensated from the other driver’s insurance unless the other driver was at least 51% at fault.

uninsured indiana drivers

The Complexities of No Pay, No Play Statues in Indiana 

Chapters 27-7-5.11 and 34-30-29.2 of the Indiana Code are commonly referred to collectively as the “no pay, no play” statutes. Under these laws, insurance companies can avoid paying non-economic damages to a repeat uninsured motorist in the case of an accident. The law is aimed at individuals with a history of driving with no insurance rather than first-time offenders.  If the claimant had no insurance at the time of the accident, and a previous citation for not having auto insurance in the previous 5 years, the limitations of this statute apply.

The various types of non-economic damages that insurance companies can avoid paying include:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Physical impairment
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of companionship, services, and consortium
  • Any other non-pecuniary loss proximately caused by the accident

Uninsured drivers are still able to recover economic damages including medical expenses, costs of treatment and rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of economic or educational potential, loss of productivity and other pecuniary losses resulting from the accident.

Indiana’s “No Pay, No Play” laws have many nuances and can have a wide variety of effects for drivers involved in an accident. Insurance companies work hard to stay on top of regulations so they can minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay.

Other states that currently have no pay, no play insurance laws include Alaska, California, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota and Oregon. In most cases the no pay, no play laws allow uninsured drivers to sue for economic damages, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs, but limit the ability of suing for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. While these laws are meant to discourage driving without insurance, the states that have no pay, no play laws actually have a higher percentage of uninsured drivers, with 13.2% compared to 12% average for states without these laws.

Other Measure to Discourage Uninsured Drivers

In a number of states, Insurance Verification Systems have been enacted. Insurers are required to report to the state transportation authority when an auto insurance policy lapses or is cancelled. This allows the government to have a database of currently insured vehicles and gives law enforcement the ability to identify uninsured drivers. The states that currently have verification systems are Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming.

The state of Ohio has implemented a random selection program where a certain number of drivers are selected each week at random and are required to provide proof of insurance. Any driver who fails to provide proof of insurance in a given timeframe receives a random selection suspension of driving privileges.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an auto accident involving an uninsured driver, contact the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.