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Drowsy Driving Suspected in Fatal Head-on Collision


A driver headed north on SR 1 has died after crossing the median line to hit a dump truck head-on in what may be the result of a drowsy driving incident.

The driver of the 2003 Honda has been identified as Rene L. Coker, 47, of Grovetown, SC. Coken was taken to AUMC after the accident, where he was pronounced dead. The accident took place near the Savannah River Site on Monday, February 8.

It was reported at 7:27 am and, according to South Carolina Highway Patrol, took place at 7: 13. A woman who lost her life in the accident has not yet been publicly identified. The driver of the dump truck was unharmed.

The SCHP and the Aiken County Coroner’s Office are conducting an investigation into the causes of the accident. Coroner Tim Carlton said that witnesses saw Coker drift into the opposite lane possibly because he fell asleep. A toxicology report is underway to determine whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Drowsy driving may be to blame for accident

All of the circumstances related to this head-on collision are not yet available as investigations are still underway. However, if drowsy driving was involved, it would be one example of an epidemic affecting roadway safety in South Carolina and the US in general.

Recent studies show Americans self-reporting high levels of drowsy driving, with 41% of respondents in a 2010 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey admitting that they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once during their lives (4% saying that this had happened in the past month). An updated version of the same foundation’s study on fatal crashes attributes 21% of all such crashes between 2009 and 2013 to drowsy driving.

Drivers who get behind the wheel while fatigued can be as dangerous as drunk drivers or drivers distracted by cell phone use. Even a so-called “micro-sleep” of a second or two can take the driver’s attention off the road long enough to cause an accident. The addition of drugs or alcohol, driving early or late and night, the use of certain prescription medications, and driving long or monotonous stretches of roadway can all contribute to drowsy driving conditions.

Liability issues in drowsy driving crashes

Drowsy drivers are more likely to cause accidents resulting in property damage, injury, or even death. In such cases, criminal charges may be presented in court, depending on the state in which the accident took place.

In a civil case in South Carolina, driving while drowsy may be understood as a form of negligence. An accident in which a car crosses the median and hits another vehicle may have been preventable if a driver chose not to drive with insufficient sleep or having taken certain medications, or if he or she went for several hours without taking a break. In the case of commercial vehicles such as buses, some companies mandate a certain number of hours of sleep between drives.

If you were injured in a car accident caused by an impaired driver, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Litigation can help victims recover compensation for hospital and medical bills, lost income, as well as emotional pain and physical suffering.

To learn more about your legal options and discuss your case with car accident lawyer South Carolina trusts, call Jeffcoat Injury and Car Accident Lawyers at (803) 200-2000 to set up a no-cost/no-obligation consultation.

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