What is Driver Fatigue?

As the motoring public becomes increasingly aware of the dangers of driver fatigue, I regularly receive questions about how this dangerous condition puts drivers on our roads at risk of injury or death. With this post, I aim to provide some key information about driver fatigue, which I hope will serve as a starting point for people looking to learn more about driver fatigue.

Driver Fatigue Defined

Driver fatigue is deadly and avoidableDrive fatigue is the mental and/or physical impairment caused by insufficient rest or sleep, suffered by the driver of a motor vehicle.

The signs of driver fatigue are manifested in many ways. Not every driver suffering from driver fatigue will experience every symptom.

  • Trouble focussing on the task of driving
  • Difficulty in staying awake
  • Inability to keep the eyes open
  • Reduction in perception
  • Significantly slowed reaction times

What Causes Driver Fatigue?

The overwhelming cause for driver fatigue is caused by a lack of sleep or rest. In a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) detailed the following causes of driver fatigue:

  • Sleep loss
  • Certain driving patterns, including driving between midnight and 6:00 a.m.; driving a substantial number of miles each year and/or a substantial number of hours each day; driving in the midafternoon hours; and driving for longer time periods without taking a break.
  • Use of sedative medications
  • Untreated or unrecognized sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea and narcolepsy
  • Consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs

In a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who get six to seven hours of sleep per night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping eight hours or more, while drivers getting less than five hours of sleep increase their risk four to five times.

How Does Driver Fatigue Effect Road Safety?

Driver fatigue causes accidents and roadway deaths. According to the NHTSA, there are an estimated 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

Learn More about Driver Fatigue

If you are an attorney investigating a truck accident and you suspect that driver fatigue may be a cause, I invite you to contact me directly to discuss your case.

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