Forty-five percent of Americans admitted to driving while trying to stay awake and posed a threat to highway safety, according to a 2019 American Academy of Sleep Medicine survey. Motorists must be aware and deal with the signs of fatigued or drowsy driving, which can cause serious motor vehicle accidents.
“In wrongful death cases that I’ve handled, fatigued driving has been the cause as often as drunk driving.” – Mark Hiepler
Fatigued driving is comparable to driving while drug- or alcohol-impaired, according to the AASM. It severely reduces driver alertness and restricts reaction times and decision-making abilities. Drowsy drivers are unable to react quickly to traffic hazards and other vehicles.
Fatigued driving causes an average of 328,000 traffic accidents each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This includes 6,400 fatal accidents.
Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 have the greatest risk of involvement in a fatigued driving accident. These motorists are prone to have irregular sleep schedules and less driving experience. Male drivers pose a greater risk than female motorists.
Warning signs and prevention
Fatigued driving has several distinct warning signs. These include:
- Constant yawning
- Inability to keep your eyes open
- Forgetting the last few miles driven
- Missing traffic signs or driving past your turn
- Following vehicles too closely
- Drifting into other traffic lanes
- Driving onto rumble strips or road shoulders
Fatigued driving accidents and injuries are especially tragic because, according to the AASM, they are completely preventable. The AASM recommends that drivers take the following precautions:
- Get enough healthy sleep before driving so that you can remain alert while you drive. Adults are recommended to sleep at least seven hours each night regularly.
- Avoid driving late at night or alone, if possible. On long trips, share the driving with another passenger.
- Pull your vehicle over at a rest stop and nap if you feel sleepy.
- After working a late shift, have someone drive you home.
These and other vehicle accidents can cause serious and fatal injuries and lead to medical expenses and other losses. An attorney can help accident victims and their families pursue their rights to compensation and damages in negotiations and trials.