Fatigue may have contributed to fatal accident involving Texas A&M player

A 19-year-old Texas A&M football player was killed in a car crash in New Mexico on July 29, 2013. The Euless, Texas, native was a passenger in an SUV travelling along U.S. 550 in Sandoval County, New Mexico, when it drifted off the road. According to the Dallas Morning News, the driver then overcorrected and apparently lost control. The SUV rolled several times. The football player and another passenger from Euless were ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. A third teenage passenger was pronounced dead in an ambulance that was transporting him to the hospital. The driver, who was the only one in the vehicle wearing his seatbelt, and another passenger survived.

Drowsy driving

A tweet that the football player posted prior to the accident reported that he and the others in the vehicle were taking a 22-hour trip from New Mexico back to Texas; the message referred to a return trip "on no sleep," according to USA Today. Driver fatigue is cited as the probable cause of the crash. Alcohol use has been ruled out as a factor. Police are still investigating the accident.

Driving drowsy is considered to be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Sleepiness can impair a driver's ability to react, cut down on psychomotor coordination and cause decisionmaking abilities to suffer. Driving while drowsy can cause a motorist not only to fall asleep at the wheel, which can lead to a crash, but also allow a driver to drift into a period known as micro sleep. In micro sleep, a person's eyes close for several seconds at a time. Any period in which a motorist is not paying attention to the road is a time when an accident is more likely to happen.

The only cure for drowsy driving is pulling over and getting some sleep before proceeding. Rolling down the window or turning up the music will not prevent a sleep-deprived driver from nodding off. The National Sleep Foundation states that a caffeinated beverage or two can revive a motorist for a time, but it is a short-term remedy.

Drowsy driving accidents are responsible for approximately 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and 100,000 crashes per year. The monetary cost linked to crashes involving sleep-deprived drivers is estimated to be $12.5 billion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Courts and juries have returned verdicts in cases alleging a driver's negligence in causing a crash due to drowsy driving. If you have been injured in an accident in which sleep deprivation played a role, you may want to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and your options.