According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 16% of fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. Operating a vehicle while feeling fatigued can result in serious car accidents. Driver fatigue often leads to the driver falling asleep while driving. To learn more about driver fatigue, continue reading.
What Is Driver Fatigue?
Driver fatigue is related to distracted or impaired driving, but it is not the same thing. When a driver is fatigued, their cognitive ability is impaired due to lack of sleep or exhaustion. It can often lead to a driver falling asleep behind the wheel.
People who work long or night shifts and those who suffer from sleep disorders are most affected by driver fatigue. However, anyone can suffer from it. According to research, if a person is constantly awake for more than 17 hours, their concentration can be impaired to the same level as someone with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.05%. In addition, mental fatigue can impact the attention and judgment of the driver, not allowing them to react on time.
Truck accidents are common, especially in states such as Idaho, which have several highways that pass through the territory. Around 13% of collisions involving trucks are due to driver fatigue. It doesn’t help that truck drivers are more likely to develop sleep apnea than regular drivers.
Signs of Driver Fatigue
- Yawning: One of the early signs of driver fatigue is yawning more and more frequently while driving. If you experience this symptom, you should park the vehicle in a safe area, try to get some rest, or drink caffeine to reduce feelings of drowsiness.
- Irritated Eyes: When you are fatigued from working or driving too much, your eyelids can get heavy. Heavy eyelids and irritated eyes are common symptoms of fatigue that can affect the driving capabilities of a motorist. Some people may even experience blurry vision due to fatigue.
- Delayed Reactions: A common sign of driver fatigue is when their reactions start to slow down. It might be difficult to notice this yourself; however, if you feel you are late in braking or turning, it is best to avoid driving until you feel more rested and alert.
- Losing Concentration: Another way to identify driver fatigue is to notice if your thoughts frequently drift off and you lose focus on driving. Continuing to drive when you lose concentration is dangerous, and you should stop and rest before continuing to drive.
- Loss of Consciousness: Falling asleep behind the wheel is extremely dangerous. If you feel yourself nodding off, you should immediately stop driving. Loss of consciousness means you would not be able to operate the vehicle properly.
Consequences of Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is one of the car accident causes that can result in life-changing consequences. For example, victims can get paralyzed or suffer from neurological injuries that stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The NHTSA estimates that 1,000 accidents in Colorado happen due to driver fatigue.
According to a report by the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), driving accidents due to driver fatigue have more than doubled from 2020 to 2021. In some cases, the driver didn’t even brake when they crashed because they were asleep while driving.
In some cases, the police can detect fatigued drivers by their erratic driving, stop the driver, and fine them for their driving behavior. Unfortunately, the police do not have a physical test to check for fatigue. However, they use their best judgment to determine if the driver is fit to drive.
How to Avoid Driver Fatigue
Get Enough Sleep
If you do not have a good sleeping schedule, then it will be difficult to avoid driver fatigue. Getting proper sleep is the first and foremost requirement to prevent driver fatigue.
In some cases, your work schedule could cause you to sleep less. It would help if you talked to your supervisor about your work schedule or find a way to manage your sleeping schedule to fit your job.
Stretching a little every other hour of the trip or taking a 30-minute long power nap could be helpful. You can also keep a caffeine drink with you to avoid drowsy driving.
A healthy lifestyle can include numerous things, one of which is limiting alcohol use, as alcohol can depress the central nervous system and cause sleepiness. In any case, you should not be behind a steering wheel when you have alcohol in your system.
Keep the Windows Down
Sometimes, the rush of air from the vehicle’s window is enough to keep you awake while driving. Keeping the windows down or rolling them down occasionally can help you regulate the temperature inside the vehicle.
Warm temperatures can make you feel lethargic, so you can either turn on the air conditioning system or roll down the windows to keep you awake.
Avoid Using Cruise Control
Cruise control can be helpful in some situations but can worsen driver fatigue. Therefore, it is best not to use cruise control if you feel you are at a high risk of fatigue. Fortunately, some vehicles are equipped with lane assist warnings, alerting you if you drift out of your lane.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one gets into a car accident caused by driver fatigue, it is best to get in touch with a car accident attorney. If you suffered due to the fault of another driver, such as a driver who fell asleep, you could be entitled to different types of compensation, including medical bills, vehicle damage, and more.
Experienced attorneys can get you justice in court by getting you maximum compensation. They also negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your settlement amount. If you live in Montana, Idaho, or Colorado, you can always contact an auto accident attorney from Mountain States Injury Law. We can help you recover compensation for your injuries and damages caused by another person’s fatigued driving.