Drowsy or fatigued driving is a deadly, yet all too common, phenomenon. A 1999 study by the National Sleep Foundation estimated that twenty-three percent of American adults have fallen asleep behind the wheel, and unfortunately that statistic does not seem to be improving. Just this week here in South Florida, we saw a case of a fatigued driver crashing into a truck after falling asleep behind the wheel, sustaining serious injuries (story). It is extremely important to always remain alert while behind the wheel to prevent an accident, but should you be involved in a crash due to another's actions or negligence, do not hesitate to call our offices at (239) 461-5508 for your free initial consultation.
Fatigue is defined as the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance. Driver fatigue may stem from a lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours, strenuous work or non-work activities, or a combination of factors. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) recently reported that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash. The quality of a person's sleep affects them in more ways than you may imagine; good sleep is as important to one's health as proper diet and exercise. Should you go without enough proper sleep, you run the risk of experiencing symptoms such as:
- Slower reactions, a cloudy mind, or foul mood,
- Weakening of body defenses, increasing your risk for infections, high blood pressure, and diabetes,
- Difficulty with focusing or remaining attentive,
Feelings of fatigue can also be worsened simply by what time it is: a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that driver alertness was more related to “time of day” than the “time on task”. People are generally less alert at night, especially after midnight: the CDC warns that most drowsy driving crashes and near misses occur during 4:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m., Midnight-2:00 a.m., and 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., so be sure to exercise extra caution during these times.
Recognizing the signs of fatigue in yourself and your fellow drivers is just as important as recognizing the signs of a drunk driver: research has shown that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, which is legally intoxicated and leads to an equal risk of causing a crash. Be aware and pay attention to signs of drowsiness in yourself, including frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision. Please keep in mind that “alertness tricks” such as smoking, opening a window, playing music, etc. are not real cures for fatigue, and may lull you into a false sense of security; if you are behind the wheel and feel the signs of fatigue taking over, PULL OVER. The life you save may be your own. While on the road, if you witness another motorist exhibiting signs of fatigued driving such as drifting in-and-out of lanes, inconsistent speeds, colliding with curbs, etc., avoid this driver and contact your local law enforcement immediately.
We live in a busy world, where there is always somewhere to go, or something that we must accomplish. There is nothing, however, as important as the ability to get home safety to our loved ones. When planning your journey, be sure to only get behind the wheel if you are well-rested, alert, and sober. The legal team at Goldberg Noone Abraham understands, however, that even if you are a perfect driver, you cannot control the actions of those around you. Should you or a loved one be injured in an accident due to another person's negligence, our attorneys are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get you back on the path to wellness.