Many people are aware that fatigue is a common cause of car accidents; some have even experienced car accidents due to a fatigued driver. But do you know why driving while you’re tired is so dangerous? Read on for more information.
Statistics About Drowsy Driving
To better understand the dangers of drowsy driving, consider the following statistics, offered by the National Safety Council:
- About half of adult drivers in the United States admit to consistently getting behind the wheel while fatigued, according to an American Sleep Foundation Survey.
- About 20 percent of survey participants admitted to actually falling asleep while driving at some point during the past year.
- Approximately 5,000 people died in 2015 due to accidents involving a fatigued driver.
- Those who drive while sleepy are three times more likely to be involved in an accident compared to drivers who aren’t fatigued.
- Every year, approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes involve drowsy driving, resulting in about 71,000 injuries.
- Signs of fatigue are often hard to identify, and some drivers experience microsleep, which involves short, involuntary bursts of inattention. Unfortunately, a driver experiencing a 4-5 second microsleep will have traveled the length of a football field during this period of inattention.
- A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the number of fatigue-related crashes that occur annually may actually exceed police-reported figures, totaling about 328,000. Researchers believe that drowsy driving fatalities are nearly 350 percent higher than reported figures.
- According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver alertness has far more to do with the time of day than it does with time on task.
- About 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers involved in accidents were driving while fatigued.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that fatigue-related crashes resulting in injury or death cost society more than $109 billion each year, and this figure does not include the cost of property damage.
The Effects of Fatigue on Driving
According to information from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), drowsy driving occurs when a driver is too tired to safely operate a motor vehicle. According to the AASM, even one night of poor sleep can put you at risk of drowsy driving. Below we discuss some other important facts about the effects of fatigue on driving:
- Fatigue impacts a driver’s reaction time, ability to pay attention, and awareness of hazards.
- Losing even two hours of sleep has the same physical effects as drinking three beers. Driving after going more than twenty hours without sleep produces the same physical effects as driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.
- Drowsy driving accidents are more likely to occur during the late night or early morning hours, which are the body’s natural times for sleep.
- Older drivers are more likely to have accidents during the mid-afternoon hours, which is another time during which the body becomes naturally sleepy.
- Drivers who are drowsy often make no effort to apply their brakes or otherwise avoid an accident.
- Individuals who work night shifts or rotating shifts are more likely to drive while fatigued due to those shifts occurring during the body’s natural sleep schedule. More than two-thirds of people who work at night report having sleep difficulties.
- Drowsy driving accidents are most common among adult males in their 20s and 30s.
- Warning signs of drowsy driving include: yawning, the inability to keep your eyes open, nodding off, ending up too close to nearby cars, missing road signs or turns, and drifting into other lanes or onto the shoulder of the road.
- As reported by the National Sleep Foundation, about 70 million people suffer from sleep disorders. To feel completely rested and alert, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Caffeine may help drivers stay awake behind the wheel, but it needs about thirty minutes to kick in and can have negative side effects.
According to a February 2016 article from the Fremont Tribune, a court sentenced a Grand Island woman to at least 42 months in prison for her role in an accident in Cass County. Nebraska State Patrol troopers arrested the woman after she left the scene of an accident on I-80. According to witnesses of the accident, the woman had been driving erratically prior to the collision. Her vehicle entered the median and collided with another car while she attempted to reenter the roadway. The collision caused the other car to roll into a ditch near the Greenwood exit, ejecting and killing a 50-year-old occupant of the vehicle.
The woman who caused the crash continued on I-80 and was later stopped by patrol officers and arrested. Urinalysis revealed the presence of multiple drugs in her system. While the levels of the drugs weren’t high enough to cause impairment, they did cause drowsiness, which contributed to the crash. A court convicted the woman of motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury or death; she will be eligible for parole in 42 months and will serve a maximum of 66 months in jail. Additionally, the court suspended her license for 15 years.
Were You Injured by a Fatigued Driver in Nebraska
Fatigued driving poses many of the same risks as driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol due to the impact that being tired has on a person’s reaction time and decision-making skills. If you were injured by a fatigued driver, contact an attorney to determine your eligibility to receive compensation for your injuries. A court may award you compensation for actual expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages due to missing work, and property damage. The court may also award you non-economic damages, including compensation for pain and suffering, permanent disability, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.
At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, we have a proven track record of success in personal injury cases. Call the Robert Pahlke Law Group today at (308) 633-4444, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and case review with one of our experienced attorneys.