The Five Types of Driving Impairment

The Five Types of Driving ImpairmentThere are thousands of vehicle collisions in Tarrant County every year. Sudden wind gusts and other uncontrollable events cause a few of them. But for the most part, these events are not accidents. They may have been unintentional, but they were usually preventable. For that reason, many government agencies and media outlets no longer use the A-word to describe these incidents.

Since driver error normally causes vehicle collisions, a Fort Worth car crash lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. This compensation normally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.


Driver inattention is one of the leading causes of vehicle collisions in the United States. Hand held cell phones are particularly troublesome. They combine all three forms of distraction, which are:

  • Cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving),

  • Manual (taking a hand off the wheel), and

  • Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road).

Hands-free cell phones are not much better. They are still visually and cognitively distractions. Furthermore, according to research, hands free devices may be even more dangerous than hand held ones. SPeakerphones give drivers a false sense of security.

Many other behaviors, such as eating while driving or having an animated discussion with passengers while driving, are also distracting.

Medical Condition

Millions of Texans suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions which could cause a sudden and unexpected loss of consciousness. Such losses typically lead to dangerous out-of-control car crashes.

Typically, the DPS suspends the drivers’ licenses of people with these conditions, if they have had symptoms within the past six months. But even if the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) license was legally valid, it is arguably negligent to drive under these circumstances. People with epilepsy and other such maladies should not get behind the wheel, and they should know better.


Similarly, people who have been drinking should not get behind the wheel. Alcohol impairs judgement ability and slows motor skills. So, this substance is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Tarrant County.

If the tortfeasor was charged with DWI, as is normally the case, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law. In other situations, victim/plaintiffs can use circumstantial evidence, such as bloodshot eyes, to establish alcohol impairment.


Fatigue and alcohol have the same effect on the brain in terms of impaired judgement and slower reactions. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC, which is a very dangerous impairment level.

Similarly, there is no quick fix for either condition. Time is the only cure for intoxication, and sleep is the only cure for drowsiness. Some common quick fixes, like drinking coffee, might help the tortfeasor feel more alert for a few minutes. But it does not reverse the effects of fatigue.


In many jurisdictions, the number of “drugged” drivers eclipses the number of “drunk” drivers. These drugs may be any one of the following:

  • Cocaine, LSD, and other illegal street drugs,

  • OxyContin, Vicodin, and other prescription painkillers, or

  • Sominex, NyQuil, and certain other over-the-counter medicines.

Even if it is legal to take these drugs, it is illegal to driver while under their influence. Since there is no Breathalyzer test for drugs (at least not yet), victim/plaintiffs can use circumstantial evidence, like open pill bottles or existing prescriptions, to establish drug impairment.

Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Home and hospital visits are available.