Driving while feeling fatigued or tired is dangerous; it was estimated that fatigue only contributed to 2 to 3 percent of car crashes, but the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says differently. In a new study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute it was discovered that 20 percent of crashes are caused by fatigue. Younger drivers are particularly vulnerable to driving while tired as “adolescents’ sleep patterns shift to later hours; however, the school day starts early, resulting in daytime sleepiness” (Source: EHSToday.com).
What is Driver Fatigue?
Fatigue is caused by physical or mental exertion and will impair performance. Driver fatigue can be caused by numerous different things, but the common factors are: lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours, strenuous work, and non-work activities. It can also be caused by a combination of different factors that add up and affect a person’s ability. There are several effects of fatigue as well, these include: nodding off, slow reaction times, poor decision making, lane drifting, and experiencing microsleeps.
For the first time, driver behavior was able to be observed immediately prior to the crash or near-crash. The results were unexpected. In 20 percent of all crashes and 16 percent of all near-crashes, the driver showed signs of fatigue. The signs of fatigue that were spotted were eye-lid closure, head bobbing, severe loss of facial musculature, and microsleep. Charlie Klauer, a group leader at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, claimed that these drivers were not yawning, but they were asleep at the wheel.
There were 232 drivers involved in the data collection, and 38 participants were involved in fatigue-related crashes and 11 of those drivers accounted for 58% of all the fatigue-related crashes and near-crashes. If these findings are then extrapolated it could then be suggested that drivers are at four times greater risk of being involved in a crash or nearly having a crash if they drive fatigued.
Who is Likely to Drive Drowsy?
There are a few people who are more likely to drive drowsy, these people are: law enforcement officers, medical staff, emergency workers, night shift workers, and truck drivers. These people are more likely to have fatigue, because of their line of work and hours. The study also showed young drivers are more likely to drive fatigued as well and that is due in part to their sleep patterns and having to get up early if they are in school.
Driver Fatigue Prevention
There are some basic tips on how to prevent driver fatigue, these include:
- Getting plenty of sleep and rest
- Staying hydrated and eating while on the road
- Pulling over if you start feeling tired
While these tips will not fully eliminate driver fatigue, they will help combat fatigue.
What To Do If You Were Involved in a Crash
If you or a loved one was involved in a crash that fatigued driving could have contributed to, contact an experienced attorney today. A car accident attorney can answer your questions, evaluate your case, and help you in determining your next steps.