Fatigued driving is a significant risk factor for motor vehicle accidents and is a leading cause of severe injuries and fatalities on the road. When drivers operate vehicles while exhausted or sleep-deprived, their ability to focus, react quickly, and make sound decisions becomes impaired.
This impairment can lead to devastating consequences, not only for the fatigued driver but also for other road users. In this article, the attorneys with Sand Law will share information on the risks of fatigued driving, why it happens, and much more.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in an accident caused by another motorist’s fatigued driving, please get in touch with us as soon as possible for a free consultation. You can call 651-291-7263 or use our online form.
Fatigued driving, also known as drowsy driving, is a dangerous behavior in which a driver operates a vehicle while feeling excessively tired, drowsy, or sleep-deprived. This state of exhaustion can significantly impair a driver’s cognitive and physical abilities, making them less alert and reactive on the road.
The effects of fatigue on driving can be likened to those of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as both can lead to impaired driving performance and an increased risk of accidents.
Who Engages in Fatigued Driving?
Both car accidents and truck accidents can result from fatigued driving. However, truck drivers are particularly susceptible to drowsy driving due to the unique challenges they face in the transportation industry.
Long-haul truck drivers often spend extended hours on the road to meet tight delivery schedules and demanding deadlines. The pressure to reach their destinations within strict time frames can lead to insufficient rest and inadequate sleep.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published the “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” in 2007. The study analyzed approximately 120,000 truck accidents that occurred between 2001 and 2003. According to the results, 18,000 of those accidents involved fatigued drivers.
Car accidents occur due to fatigued driving regularly as well. According to the American Automobile Association, fatigue is typically a factor in about 10% of crashes.
Drivers often engage in activities that compromise their rest. These include traveling long distances without taking breaks, driving late at night, or failing to get enough sleep before embarking on a trip.
Why Do People Drive While Exhausted?
Several factors contribute to why people drive while exhausted. These are just a few:
- Work-related pressure: Truck drivers may face financial incentives or pressure from employers to complete deliveries within tight timeframes, leading them to forgo sufficient rest. They do this despite federal regulations, namely the Hours of Service Rule, that expressly forbid truckers from staying behind the wheel too long.
- Long-distance travel: Whether for work or personal reasons, individuals driving long distances may try to push through fatigue to reach their destinations, leading to drowsy driving.
- Sleep disorders: People with sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia may experience persistent sleep disturbances. These can result in chronic fatigue and make them more susceptible to drowsy driving.
- Night-shift work: Night-shift workers often struggle to get adequate sleep during the daytime, as they need to adjust their sleep schedules. This lack of sleep will often lead to drowsiness during nighttime driving.
- Personal commitments and lifestyle choices: Demanding schedules, family responsibilities, and social activities can lead individuals to sacrifice sleep. These people inadvertently put themselves at risk of drowsy driving.
How Does Fatigued Driving Cause Motor Vehicle Accidents?
Fatigued driving significantly impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Common consequences of fatigued driving include:
- Slower reaction times: Fatigue hampers a driver’s ability to react quickly to sudden changes in traffic conditions or unexpected hazards, such as a vehicle braking ahead.
- Faulty judgment: Drowsy drivers may experience diminished decision-making abilities, leading to poor choices while behind the wheel. A tired driver will be more prone to making a potentially fatal decision, such as driving the wrong way.
- Reduced attention and focus: Lack of rest can lead to difficulty maintaining focus on the road and the driving environment. This makes it easier for the driver to miss critical information.
- Increased likelihood of mistakes: Fatigued drivers are more prone to making critical driving errors. Errors include drifting out of their lane or failing to recognize traffic signs.
- Microsleep episodes: In extreme cases, drowsy drivers may experience microsleep episodes. These are brief periods of unconsciousness that last for a few seconds. During a microsleep, the driver is unaware of their surroundings and unable to respond to potential dangers.
These factors increase the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents, posing a significant danger to drivers, passengers, and other road users.
How to Prove the At-Fault Party was Fatigued
Proving that a driver was fatigued during the accident is challenging. However, several pieces of evidence can support your claim, such as the following:
- Police report: Police officers investigating the accident may note signs of fatigue, such as bloodshot eyes or witness statements regarding the driver’s behavior before the crash.
- Electronic logging device (ELD): Data from an ELD, commonly referred to as a “black box,” can be critical for truck accidents. An ELD can show the driver’s driving hours and rest breaks, helping establish if they violated hours-of-service regulations.
- Surveillance footage: Surveillance cameras along the accident route may capture evidence of erratic driving or signs of fatigue. Your attorney can work to obtain that footage to help prove your case.
- Witness testimonies: Eyewitnesses who observed the driver’s behavior before the accident can provide valuable insights into their state of alertness.
Do I Need to Hire a Fatigued Driver Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by a fatigued driver, it’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. An experienced lawyer can help investigate the accident, gather essential evidence, and build a solid case to establish liability. They’ll advocate for your rights and work to secure the compensation you deserve for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact Sand Law to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
Sand Law attorneys have extensive experience in handling car and truck accident cases. We’ll guide you through the legal process with compassion and expertise, working hard to help you obtain maximum compensation. Please schedule a free case review by contacting us online or calling 651-291-7263.