The dangers of driving drunk are well known. But what about driving tired? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigued or drowsy driving leads to more than 100,000 reported accidents annually in the United States.
When it comes to driving, fatigue is an impairment, much like alcohol. One major difference between fatigued driving and drunk driving, however, is that fatigue cannot be easily measured with a breath or blood test. If you think a fatigued driver is responsible for your injuries, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages.
Symptoms of Fatigued Driving
If you think you are too tired to drive safely, don’t get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, people often don’t realize they are fatigued until it’s too late. Below are some common symptoms of driver fatigue. If you notice yourself doing any of these things, pull over.
- Repeated yawning
- Difficulty focusing, both visually and cognitively
- Head nodding
- Drifting in and out of your lane
- Rubbing your eyes
- Frequent blinking
Risk Factors for Fatigued Driving
Most of us have had at least one or two experiences with fatigued driving, but some people drive while drowsy on a daily basis. This is of special concern for long-haul truck drivers, late shift workers, and medical professionals who put in 12 and 14-hour shifts. Driver fatigue is also common among people with obesity, certain health problems, and those who smoke. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs are also notorious for causing driver fatigue. Talk to your health care provider about these risks if you are currently taking any type of medication. You may have a high risk of driver fatigue if you:
- are between the ages of 16 and 29.
- are a shift worker who works irregular hours, or at night.
- have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy.
Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. In both scenarios, our reaction time is slower, our judgment is impaired, and our overall awareness is significantly decreased. We may also develop aggressive behaviors and become moody or irritable when fatigued, none of which support safe driving practices. When we are unfocused and agitated, the chance for a collision increases dramatically. Not to mention, fatigued driving can lead to falling asleep behind the wheel, which rarely ends well.
Fatigued Driving Statistics
The statistics below provide a deeper look into the problem of fatigued driving, and how you can avoid becoming a statistic.
- Approximately one in 25 adults say they have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the previous 30 days.
- Individuals who snore are more likely to fall asleep while driving.
- More than 6,000 traffic fatalities annually are caused by fatigued or drowsy driving.
- Men are nearly twice as likely as women to fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Fatigued driving is more common among adults with young children in the household.
- An Australian study revealed that being awake for 24 hours produces a level of impairment equal to that of an intoxicated person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10, which is well above the legal limit.
- A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) revealed that only about one in five drivers pulls over to nap when fatigued.
- Younger adults are less likely to pull over when tired than their older counterparts.
If you feel fatigue coming on while driving, protect yourself and anyone with whom you share the road. Pull over. A 20-minute nap may just save your life. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence. Continue reading