Driver fatigue is a serious danger that causes thousands of accidents each year. Research to quantify the exact numbers of fatigue-related accidents is much more difficult than cases of alcohol-impaired accidents because there is no measurable test. With extensive experience in resolving Chicago auto accident cases, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC uses proven litigation techniques to obtain direct evidence of a driver's sleep habits at the time of a collision. These techniques allow us to establish that fatigue contributed to an auto accident when the case is presented to a judge and jury.
Slowed Reaction Time Due To Drowsiness
Fatigue leads to car accidents because it impairs reaction time, reduces attentiveness, and causes problems with processing and integrating information. The danger with sleepiness is that once a person sits still, gets bored, or drives long distances, the motorist starts to let down their coping defenses that could likely lead to falling asleep at the wheel.
Common Circumstances Involved In Driver Fatigue Motor Vehicle Accidents
There are circumstances or characteristics to determine if driver fatigue was involved in the accident including:
- Accident occurs late night/early morning (predominant) or mid-afternoon
- Serious crash
- Single vehicle leaves road
- High-speed road
- Driver makes no attempt to avoid crash
- Driver is alone
- Driver is with family members or close friends
Groups at higher risk for fatigue-related crashes include young people (16-29), shift workers who work at night or long and irregular hours, people who use sedative medications, and people with untreated or unrecognized sleep disorders (sleep apnea, narcolepsy).
Explanations Behind The Outbreak Of Sleepy Drivers
There are several causes of drowsy driving including acute sleep loss, job-related sleep restriction, personal demands, lifestyle choices, sleep fragmentation, and circadian factors. Seven to nine hours of sleep is needed for optimal performance, and less than four hours of sleep impairing attentiveness. Drivers can create a sleep debt causing chronic sleepiness by losing one to two hours of sleep a night.
Improving The Safety Of Drivers, Passengers & Other Sharing The Road
Educating people about steps they can take to reduce the risk of driver fatigue can help reduce the incidence of fatigue-related accidents. Simple suggestions such as getting enough sleep, not drinking alcohol when sleepy, and limiting driving between midnight and 6 a.m. can make a difference. Then, the important thing for people to do is to recognize driver fatigue.
If a driver starts to feel sleepy, they should stop and take a nap and have caffeine or have a passenger take a turn driving. However, it is important to realize that stimulants such as caffeine can mask how sleepy a person becomes. Finally, it should be noted that getting adequate sleep and preventing drowsiness is better than taking remedial measures. Along with educating the driving public, rumble strips installed on the roadway are effective to alert drivers of possible impairment. If motorists can take steps to avoid driving while drowsy, the number of driver fatigue-related accidents can be reduced.