You’ve probably heard of distracted driving, but did you know that fatigued driving can be just as dangerous? Also known as drowsy driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries occur due to fatigued drivers each year.
While it might not seem like much when you’re feeling a little tired behind the wheel, fatigue can lead to severe accidents and the rise of many a Steel barrier just like texting or drinking and driving. These are the dangers of fatigued driving and what you can do to prevent it.
The Real Numbers
The NHTSA admits that their numbers are conservative at best. There are no test for fatigue like there are for drinking and drug use. Police are not trained to spot drowsiness as the cause behind an accident, even though it is a major contributing factor in drunk driving incidents.
Add that to the fact that most drivers do not admit feeling tired after an accident, and it becomes clear that fatigued driving could be responsible for even more fatalities and injuries across the nation. This makes a fatigued potentially one of the most dangerous on the road. So, how can you tell when you’re in danger of driving drowsy?
Tired vs. Fatigued
Everyone is a little tired after a long day at work or being out and about. That’s perfectly normal. A yawn here and there is nothing to worry about, but how can you tell when that tiredness turns into fatigue? There are a few warning signs to be aware of, including:
- Hardly being able to keep your eyes open
- Frequent yawning combined with rubbing your eyes
- Drifting off the road, into other lanes, or hitting rumble strips
- An inability to keep your head in an upright position
- Missing exits
There are various groups who are more likely to drive drowsy, as well. Fatigue is often the cause of a trucking accident, with truckers driving for miles on end without rest. Parents with young children, night shift workers, and adults between 18 and 29 are also the largest culprits.
Drowsy Driving Prevention
While it isn’t always possible to just stay off the road, there are things you can do to help prevent the effects of fatigue. The two most important preventative measures are getting a full night’s sleep each night and ensuring your car isn’t too comfy.
Caffeine can also help, but only for so long. Make sure to share driving duties if you’re on a long trip with someone else in the car. Singing loudly also helps some drivers. When fatigue sets in, pull over and take a short nap if possible.
What to Do When You’ve Been in a Fatigued Driving Accident
If you or someone you know as been in an accident caused by fatigue, the best course of action is to lawyer up. You have the right to sue for compensation when the accident was another driver’s fault, but you’ll need to defend yourself if you were the drowsy party. Either way, it takes a skilled attorney to prove fatigue in court.