Fainting Behind the Wheel

Syncope Behind the Wheel

Fainting Behind the Wheel

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer. Feeling light-headed or dizzy is one of the most common feelings that people notice before they pass out. The medical term for “passing out” is called syncope. A research study regarding syncope was published in the medical journal Frontiers in Physiology. Some of the statistics from this study include:

  • About a quarter of people have suffered from at least one syncopal event at some point in their life.
  • Close to 40 syncopal episodes occur for every 1,000 people each year.
  • The incidence of syncope is about even between both men and women.
  • Syncope is most common in the elderly population, with a spike occurring after 70 years of age.
  • About a third of people who suffer one syncopal event will experience another one at some point in their life.
  • More than a quarter of people will have an associated traumatic injury with their syncopal event.

Even though most people recover after a syncopal event without issue, these do not come without risks. It is essential to consider the circumstances of syncope because there are additional factors to consider. For example, if someone suffers a syncopal event while behind the wheel of a car, a serious auto accident could result.

Causes of Syncope

There are many different reasons why someone might suffer a syncopal event and pass out. Possible causes include:

  • A cardiac cause, meaning that not enough blood is being pumped from the heart to the brain.
  • An intermittent blockage in the carotid arteries, temporarily causing a stoppage of blood flow to the brain.
  • Vasovagal syncope, which happens when someone overreacts to extreme emotional distress.
  • Dehydration, which can cause a drop in someone’s blood pressure and makes it harder for blood to reach the brain.

When people pass out, they typically fall down. This causes blood to pool evenly throughout the body, including the brain and restores oxygen to the brain’s tissues. This allows someone to wake up. If someone is driving a car, he or she can’t fall over. Blood may not return to the brain. This makes driving particularly dangerous for those who suffer from syncope.

Syncope Behind the Wheel

If people have a syncopal event while driving, it may take them longer to wake up. Clearly, those who pass out will lose control of their motor vehicle, making them particularly dangerous. There could be severe traumatic injuries that result from an auto accident involving syncope, and a wrongful death could occur. Therefore, it is important to consider both the rights of the individual and the safety of others. Some important guidelines to consider include:

  • After a syncopal episode, it is essential to observe the person for a period of time before allowing him or her to drive again.
  • During this period, medical studies should be conducted to try and elicit the cause of the syncopal episode.
  • If no further syncopal episodes occur after six months, the individual should be permitted to resume driving.

While some people may take issue with these restrictions, it is also important to protect individuals from unnecessary auto accidents. Those who have been injured in an auto accident involving syncope should meet with a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. You could be entitled to financial compensation.

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I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer.  Syncope can be dangerous behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

I’m a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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Image Attribution: The image seen above was found on Pixabay and is shown here with permission from the CC0 Creative Commons License.

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