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Police: Fatigue a Factor in Fiery Disney Crash

A fiery car accident near Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando was reportedly caused by a fatigued driver. 

The crash involved a sport utility vehicle and a bus that collided around 6 p.m. It reportedly resulted in 11 injuries, with eight of those being passengers on the bus. Those injuries ranged from minor to serious.

Investigators say the SUV driver was driving the wrong way on Sherbeth Road – traveling south in the northbound lanes. The driver, her husband and son were all transported to the hospital. Onlookers reported huge flames and thick smoke billowing from the scene. Both vehicles reportedly burst into flames.

The woman’s son, age 7, who had been seated in the back, told authorities the family had spent the entire day at Disney at his mother had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol said they do not believe the SUV driver was impaired in any way, but they do plan to charge her with wrong-way driving.

Later, the SUV driver’s sister told the Orlando Sentinel the boy gave a different account of why his mother was in the wrong lane. He told his aunt that a van swerved into their lane so his mother had to move into oncoming traffic to avoid being hit by the van.

The driver and her husband were both still hospitalized days after the crash. She reportedly has no recollection of the crash. She has received five traffic citations since 2009, including one in which she was accused of running a red light and driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit.

Certainly, the outcome of this Orlando car accident could have been much worse. Take for example another car accident that also happened near Disney earlier this month. According to the Sentinel, a 15-year-old boy was killed when a driver reportedly under the influence of drugs caused a four-car pileup near Disney Springs dining on shopping. The 24-year-old allegedly impaired driver failed to slow as he approached a traffic light and plowed into a line of vehicles ahead of him. The force of the crash proved fatal for the 16-year-old.

There is ample research to suggest that sleep deprivation is just as deadly for drivers as drug or alcohol impairment.

According to, operated by the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 100,000 police-reported car accidents annually are the result of driver fatigue. The result is 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.

Approximately 60 percent of drivers admit to driving while feeling tired and nearly 40 percent admit to having actually fallen asleep at the wheel.

The trouble is ascertaining driver fatigue is much tougher than determining substance impairment or even driver distraction. For example, a blood-alcohol test can determine a person’s level of intoxication at any given point. Police can scroll through a driver’s phone to determine whether they were texting/ posting/ dialing at the time of the crash. But pinning down fatigue is more difficult.

In cases with commercial drivers, one can check driver logs that are required by the Florida Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). But private drivers aren’t required to keep such records.

If injury or wrongful death victims can establish extreme driver fatigue, they may have grounds to pursue punitive damages, which can greatly boost their overall compensation.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Wrong-way driver may have fallen asleep before crash near Animal Kingdom, FHP says, May 15, 2016, WESH NBC-2

More Blog Entries:

People Texting Drivers Could be Liable for Resulting Accidents, May 22, 2016, Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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