How fatigue affects driving ability

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Chronic fatigue is a common issue in the United States. Many people have more responsibilities than time. Sleep is often what they sacrifice to fulfill their professional obligations and care for their families.

Unfortunately, the longer people go without adequate sleep, the more likely they may be to injure themselves or others. Fatigued or drowsy drivers represent a serious hazard on public roads. They can cause crashes because of how their exhaustion affects their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

How exactly does fatigue affect someone’s ability to drive safely?

Fatigued drivers are like drunk drivers

According to the National Safety Council, those who go too long without sleep become incredibly unsafe drivers. After 20 hours without adequate rest, the effects of exhaustion are the equivalent of a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. That is the threshold for being legally drunk.

Much like drunk drivers, fatigued drivers cause hundreds of preventable crashes every year. Exhausted drivers have longer reaction times. They typically find it more difficult than the average person does to keep their attention focused on the road ahead of them. They might have difficulty making snap decisions in dangerous circumstances. Any one of those challenges could potentially lead to a preventable collision.

Drowsy drivers could doze off at the wheel

The other serious concern when people drive while fatigued is the possibility of them falling asleep at the wheel. Some people fall completely asleep and lose all control of their vehicles. They might go off the road or into the other lane of traffic, causing a head-on collision.

They could also potentially experience micro-sleeps where they only doze off for a second or two. That can be enough to cause a crash in some cases. While there aren’t any tests that verify fatigue, the conduct of exhausted drivers often makes it clear that they are to blame for the crashes they cause.

The other people involved in those wrecks may be able to file insurance claims or possibly even personal injury lawsuits seeking compensation for the damages caused by the car crash. Understanding what contributes to risk on the road can help people make safer choices and recognize when they have grounds to take action against a driver who was unsafe in traffic.

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