A lady is tired while driving with the words, "Fatigue: a common cause of accidents."

There are many things drivers take into account before they drive. The state of their car, the state of the roads, traffic, and weather conditions are all factors to be considered. However, many drivers do not assess their state of mind before heading to their next destination.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver fatigue was the cause of at least 795 deaths related to car accidents in 2017. Unlike alcohol-related accidents, driver fatigue is harder to pinpoint as a cause, which means that this number could be a lot higher. This article focuses on driver fatigue and the different steps drivers can take to keep themselves safe and less likely to end up in an accident.

How Common Is Driver Fatigue?

Driver fatigue can’t be that common, can it? In a survey of adult drivers by the National Sleep Foundation, about half of them admitted to getting behind the wheel while driving and another 20% of them admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. These numbers are staggering, considering only a handful of drivers across the United States took the survey.

How Does Fatigue Affect Driving?

Fatigue is infamous for reducing the ability to focus and for making individuals feel fuzzy and sluggish. When driving, these symptoms can affect a driver in the same way alcohol does. For example, fatigue impacts:

  • Reaction Time: Drivers are usually not as responsive to changes or hazards on the road.
  • Inability to Focus and Impaired Judgement: Driving while fatigued, specifically if you haven’t slept in 20 hours, is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%. This is the United State’s legal limit for alcohol blood content.

Why Would a Driver Drive While Tired?

In reality, driving while fatigued is very common. Our world is set up to keep moving, making little time for individuals to rest. Because of this, many suffer from an experience known as microsleep. Microsleep is a term that is used to describe short, involuntary periods of time where attention is focused or lowered. This can be anywhere from 4-5 seconds. While this may not seem like a lot of time, an individual traveling on the highway at 70 miles per hour will have already gone the length of a football field during that time.

How Do I Know If I am Too Tired To Drive?

Before you decide to drive, consider these signs of fatigue:

  • Frequent yawning
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • Nodding off
  • Inability to recount the last few minutes or miles driven
  • Missing road signs or turns
  • Constantly fluctuating speeds
  • Drifting

How Do I Protect Myself From Driving Fatigue?

The only way to protect yourself from driver fatigue is to not drive while you’re tired. This can be difficult as coming back from long holidays, work, and even just a road-trip can result in fatigue. If you must drive, follow these tips:

  • Get plenty of sleep: Starting a few days before your trip, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Getting the right amount of sleep will help your body stay more alert and keep you feeling fresh.
  • Don’t operate vehicles under medication: If you have recently taken medication for an illness or condition in which the warning labels warn you not to get behind the wheel, then it is best to heed its warning.
  • Avoid driving during peak sleeping times: Your body’s natural clock will have you feeling drowsy in the late afternoon or between midnight and 6 a.m.
  • If you are feeling fatigued, pull over: Find a hotel, get a cup of coffee, or take a quick nap at a rest area. Do not force yourself to keep going. Doing so will increase your risk of an accident.

I Was Injured In a Fatigue Related Car Accident

If you were injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, the dedicated attorneys of Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can help! Our team will fight hard to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. With a No-Win, No-Fee Policy, and a free no-obligation consultation, you will not be putting anything at risk to talk to our lawyers. Find out why the Hernandez Law Group is one of DFW’s leading car accident law firms and contact us today!