Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness brought about by overexertion (physical and/or mental) or not enough rest over a period of time. In a recent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, it was found that 60% of adult drivers in America, over 150 million people, say they have driven a vehicle in the past year while feeling drowsy. More than 37% of those polled also claimed to have actually fallen asleep at the wheel in the same time period. A lot of attention has been given to drunk driving and distracted driving, but drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous in its own right. Just think about it, and it's hard to imagine anything more dangerous than actually falling asleep at the wheel, the vehicle has no one to control it! If you or anyone you know has been injured because of someone driving fatigued, call a Sacramento car accident lawyer for legal advice.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 100,000 police reported crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 deaths are attributed to fatigued driving every year. That accounts for nearly $12.5 billion in monetary losses!
What Causes Fatigued Driving?
There are many different ways for drivers to become fatigued prior to getting on the road, but the below examples are the most common, and avoiding these situations will reduce your risk of an accident caused by fatigue.
Lack of Sleep – This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you don’t get enough sleep the night before, you will not be operating at 100% and your driving abilities will be negatively affected. Severe lack of sleep can lead to drivers falling asleep at the wheel, which has been proven to be one of the most dangerous situations one can encounter on the road.
Emotional Distress – Being involved in a taxing emotional situation can have multiple harmful effects on a person’s driving ability. Most of us understand how emotional stress can cause drivers to become distracted, but another less known fact is that it can severely drain your energy and negatively affect your cognitive abilities. This emotional fatigue can cloud a person’s judgment and reduce their awareness, causing symptoms very similar to lack of sleep and increasing your chance of injury while on the road.
Physical Exhaustion – Even when we get the recommended amount of sleep, the type of day that we had can sometimes cause extreme exhaustion that affects us as if we hadn’t. If your job requires long hours and hard labor, then you know exactly what we are talking about. When our body is physically exhausted, our reaction time and actual driving skill is reduced because our arms and legs are not operating at 100%. Contact a Southern California car accident lawyer for additional help or information regarding fatigued driving.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Fatigued driving effects basically everyone on the road – think about it, have you ever driven while tired? While no one is immune to the effects of drowsy driving, the below demographic groups are at the highest risk:
- Adults aged 18-29 are the most likely to drive while fatigued, with 71% reporting they had done so in the last year, compared to 52% for 30-64-year-olds and only 19% of those aged 65 and older
- Adults with children are more likely to drive while fatigued than those without (59% vs 45%)
- According to a study completed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, adults who slept 6-7 hours were twice as likely to be in a fatigue-related traffic accident than those who slept at least 8 hours. Those who slept 5 hours or less were almost 5 times as likely!
There has been increased attention afforded to drowsy and fatigued driving in recent years, and state and federal regulators are trying to come up with a solution. There is no test to determine whether someone is driving while tired, so proving fatigued to be the cause of an accident in court has proven difficult. There have, however, been several drowsy driving-related incidents that resulted in jail time for the drowsy driver. For the time being, it is up to us as individuals to combat fatigued driving and keep our roadways safe. Call a Sacramento car accident lawyer now if you have been injured from someone driving drowsy or fatigued.