Published On: Wed, Oct 14th, 2020

Drivers Fatigue is Becoming a Leading Cause of Crashes

When a person sees news of an accident, many jump to the conclusion that it was caused by a driver under the influence of a substance, like alcohol. However, recent studies suggest that drowsiness and fatigue may play a substantial role in the thousands of car accidents that occur every year, many of which result in serious or life-threatening injuries.

Defined as when a person does not get enough sleep, or enough quality sleep, fatigue can severely impair a person’s driving by making them less aware of their surroundings or less present as they operate their motor vehicle. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, found that more than 37% of people in the U.S. get less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep – which means that many drivers may not be as well-slept as they should be to drive.

Like anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road or the wheel, drowsiness or fatigue can have serious implications on the safety of a person and others who may share the road. With anywhere from 100,000 to 328,000 accidents per year being caused by tired drivers, it is no wonder that groups across the country are trying to shed light on this important issue.

Fatigue and Car Accidents

In many instances, a fatigued driver may be just as dangerous behind the wheel as a driver who has had a few drinks and tries to drive. This is because the effects of drowsiness on a person’s ability to operate a vehicle are substantial and may create more issues than initially expected.

“A number of symptoms can be associated with fatigue, such as tired eyes, excessive yawning, inability to remember directions, and difficulty concentrating,” said Attorney Matthew Aulsbrook from Aulsbrook Law Firm. “Drivers who notice more of these symptoms may benefit from pulling over on the road to rest, ideally getting out of the car to stretch or move around, before they get into an accident.”

Driver fatigue has been known to reduce the attention a driver has to their surroundings, whether their movements inside the car or to elements outside of their vehicle. Sometimes fatigue leads to slower reaction rates or lack of attention to the things around them on the road. In more severe cases, a driver may fall into a slight sleep and briefly lose consciousness on the road – which can spell danger for not only the driver, but the other bicyclists, pedestrians, or drivers that share the road with them. 

How to Prevent Fatigue Behind the Wheel

It is inevitable that a person may be tired or feel drowsy at points during the day. If a person feels this way, the best ways to prevent issues stemming from fatigue is to rest or try and energize oneself before trying to drive. However, if a person must drive, there are a few tips to keep in mind before getting behind the wheel to prevent accidents stemming from fatigue.

First is to try and start a long trip or drive earlier in the day, when one may be at their most alert. Driving with others, taking sporadic breaks during a trip, and switching car drivers are other points that a person may consider before taking extended trips.

Another key element to staying awake behind the wheel is to keep the car’s environment stimulating – whether by having the windows down, keeping the temperature inside the car cool, or switching between radio stations to keep a driver alert. 

While accidents do occur, many drivers may be unaware of the fact that a large part of the accidents that occur within the U.S. each year actually stem from drowsy drivers. By keeping the previous points in mind, and understanding how drowsiness affects each person, drivers on the road can prioritize their safety and the safety of others on the shared road by getting enough sleep and preventing themselves from getting behind the wheel if they feel tired or drowsy.

Author: Sadaf Zain

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