Car and truck accidents caused by drunk driving and texting have rightfully received a great deal of attention over the past several years, but very little publicity has been given to accidents caused by driver fatigue. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers report operating motor vehicles while drowsy, and fatigued driving results in more than more than 100,000 car crashes each year. Victims of these crashes often sustain serious injuries and use the knowledge and skill of reliable personal injury attorneys to recover damages.
What Is Driver Fatigue?
Drowsy driving, also referred to as fatigued driving, is a form of impairment that affects those operating motor vehicles, and it is closely related to driving under the influence and distracted driving. However, rather than the impairment being caused by drugs, alcohol or distractions, it is caused by sleepiness.
While falling asleep at the wheel is extremely hazardous for drivers, passengers and other people on the road, simply being tired or drowsy can also affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Following are few of the most dangerous symptoms of fatigued driving:
- Decreased alertness
- Reduced reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Cloudy thoughts
- Blurry vision
Driving while drowsy can affect anyone at any time, but studies show that the following groups are most likely to be affected:
- Male drivers 17 to 23 years of age
- People who suffer from sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome
- Overnight workers and people with irregular working hours
- Anyone who receives an average of fewer than six hours of sleep in a 24-hour period
How to Avoid Fatigued Driving
Drivers of any age and health condition should be aware of the dangers of fatigued driving and take precautions to avoid driving in such a state of impairment. The most effective way to prevent drowsy driving is to sleep restfully for seven to eight hours each night, especially the night preceding long drives. However, the following tips can also help reduce driver fatigue and the problems associated with it:
- Avoid alcoholic beverages before driving even if you are not legally drunk. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can cause sleepiness in individuals who were awake and alert only moments before.
- Always follow the directions for taking prescription medications. Many medications cause fatigue or drowsiness and should not be taken before driving or during times where driving is expected.
- Be aware that drinking coffee, energy drinks or other caffeinated beverages may only help keep you awake for short periods, and the effects can wear off suddenly without warning.
- Never get behind the wheel when you feel tired or fatigued.
- If you begin to feel tired while driving or sense that your ability to stay alert is decreasing, pull over in a safe place, such as a designated rest area, and take a nap for at least 20 minutes.
Consequences of Drowsy Driving
An auto or truck accident caused by fatigued driving can have serious, long-lasting consequences, including injuries and the death of yourself, passengers and pedestrians.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), about 100,000 car crashes occur each year because of driving drowsy, and it is estimated that these accidents result in 71,000 injuries, 1,550 deaths and financial losses of $12.5 billion.
Unfortunately, there is no way to determine sleepiness, and police are not always trained to identify the signs. Therefore, it is believed that many more accidents, injuries, and fatalities can be attributed to drowsy driving than are reported.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you has been involved in a motor vehicle crash that may have been caused by fatigued driving, it is recommended that you contact an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible. At Rizio Law Firm, our knowledgeable and reliable attorneys understand how difficult it is dealing with the aftermath of an auto or truck accident, and we treat your situation with the utmost care while fighting to protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.
For a free consultation about an auto accident case, call Rizio Law Firm at 888-292-8888 or contact us online 24 hours a day.