Fatigued driving, commonly known as drowsy driving, is a serious problem on U.S. roadways. It happens when a driver operates a vehicle when they’re too tired to remain alert, significantly impacting their driving abilities.
Understanding the causes, dangers, and prevention of fatigued driving is crucial for all road users.
Causes of fatigued driving
Drowsy driving can be caused by various factors, including lack of adequate sleep, long work hours, driving at times when they would usually be asleep and certain medications. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea also contribute to fatigued driving.
Dangers of driving while fatigued
The dangers of fatigued driving are significant. Drowsiness slows reaction time, reduces attentiveness, and impairs decision-making skills. Fatigued drivers are less able to judge their level of tiredness, often underestimating the impact on their driving capabilities.
There’s also a chance that a tired driver will fall asleep behind the wheel. A microsleep can last a few seconds, but that’s enough to cause a catastrophic crash. In just five seconds, a vehicle moving at 55 miles per hour can go the length of a football field. If the driver is sleeping, the vehicle isn’t under anyone’s control during that period.
Preventing fatigued driving involves several proactive steps. Drivers must get enough sleep before driving, especially long trips. Temporary measures, such as drinking caffeine or turning up the radio, don’t work to prevent fatigue long-term. Instead, those are just short measures that might enable the driver to get someone to a place where they can sleep.
The role of technology
Modern vehicles increasingly come equipped with features designed to combat fatigued driving. These include lane departure warnings, collision warning systems and other driver-assist technologies that can alert drivers to potential issues caused by drowsiness. While these technologies can provide valuable assistance, they aren’t substitutes for attentive driving.
Victims of drowsy driving crashes will likely need urgent medical care. They should ensure they get this and seek compensation for the financial damages they’re dealing with. North Carolina law limits these victims’ time to file their case, so swift action is critical.