Driver Fatigue May Have Led to Crash

Date: June 13, 2010
Location: Highway 97 near Chemult, Oregon
Names: Harry Dean Rehder, Steven W. Ott

A California man suffered a seizure after a two-car crash on Highway 97 near Chemult, Oregon, and is now in critical condition at a Bend hospital, according to an OSP press release. The other driver has been cited for careless driving, and driver fatigue may have been a factor in the crash.

On June 13, 2010, around 9:15 AM, a pickup truck driven by Harry Dean Rehder, 57, of Orland, California, was headed south on Highway 97. Near milepost 201, Rehder moved into the right lane.

Behind Rehder, in the left southbound lane, was Steven W. Ott, 30, of Ellensburg, Washington. Ott started to move alongside the truck driven by Rehder, clipping the pickup’s left rear corner. This caused the truck Rehder was driving to skid sideways across the northbound lanes, finally flipping over and landing on its top.

Rehder found himself tangled in his safety belt, but managed to get free. He was then able to escape from the overturned truck by crawling through the window. However, he then collapsed and went into a seizure. After emergency medical personnel treated Rehder at the scene, he was flown to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend by Air Link helicopter.

Ott escaped injury in the crash. He was cited for careless driving, and driving drowsy may have contributed to the crash.

We are sending our wishes to Rehder for a complete recovery. We are thinking of you, and we hope you are out of the hospital soon.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver fatigue accounts for thousands of crashes each year. NHTSA data in 1996 showed that driver drowsiness contributed to around 56,000 crashes per year, resulting in a yearly average of 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. The agency further noted that these figures are low due to under reporting.

Risks for drowsy driving include sleep loss, driving between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., driving a substantial number of hours in one day, driving in the mid-afternoon hours (especially for older drivers), and driving for long periods without taking a break. The use of sedating medication, including over-the-counter drugs, can also add to the risk, as can alcohol, as well as untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorders. These factors are cumulative; if more than one applies, the risk is even higher.

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving

  • Plan to get sufficient sleep.
  • Do not drink any alcohol at all when you are tired.
  • Limit driving between midnight and 6 AM.
  • If you become sleepy, stop driving immediately. Let a passenger drive, or pull over and get adequate sleep before driving again.
  • In the short term, it can help to take a 15 to 20-minute nap and drink two cups of coffee.
  • Do not rely on opening a window or turning up the radio. There is no evidence that these work.

Many questions arise out of a car crash. And unfortunately, our minds don’t often focus on recovering; they usually go directly to the financial – medical bills, insurance policies, lost wages. How will you and your family get through it? Fortunately, victims have resources. That’s why we’re here. We’re not ambulance chasers; we’re Oregon car accident lawyers who feel it is our duty to help injured people deal with the insurance companies, so that you can focus on healing. And the first thing you should do after getting the medical help you need is to go to our website – not to give us your business, but to read our free tips, download helpful documents, or request a free copy of our book. And if that’s not enough, you can always call our Portland personal injury lawyer to ask us any questions.