Not Getting Enough Sleep? Excessive Fatigue A Factor In Car and Truck Accidents
The demands of work, school, family, and our personal lives can deprive our bodies of the proper amount of sleep. In addition to affecting our health in a variety of harmful ways, sleep deprivation and excessive fatigue can also make car and truck accidents more likely to occur.
Along with reckless driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence, driving while tired increases the likelihood for motor vehicle accidents and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 80,000 car and truck accidents are caused by what is referred to as ‘drowsy driving’ each year.
Drowsy driving occurs among people who work long hours and swing shifts, and is a common issue in the trucking industry as drivers push themselves to make quotas. When driving long distances or making multiple, short trip, it is important to be aware of the amount of sleep you are getting, and the impact being tired can have on your driving abilities. Drowsy driving often mirrors the effects commonly associated with driving under the influence, which include:
- Poor judgement and decision making;
- Lack of coordination, and inability to perform multiple tasks, such as concentrating on the road while watching for exits or road signs;
- Vision and depth perception issues, which can make it difficult to calculate distance when braking, passing, or following other vehicles;
- Problems with steering and staying on the road or in your lane.
In cases of severe fatigue, a driver may fall asleep behind the wheel, leading to head on collisions with other drivers or objects, such as trees or guardrails.
Dealing With Fatigue While Driving
The National Sleep Foundation reports as many as 60 percent of all drivers admit to operating cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles while excessively fatigued, and 30 percent admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. Most drowsy driving accidents occur during the overnight or early morning hours, and they are just as likely to happen on major highways and interstates, as they are on rural roads.
Drinking coffee, rolling down the window, or listening to loud music generally does not do much to reduce the effects of fatigue, and taking energy supplements or ‘uppers’ can often make matters worse. If you find yourself yawning or having trouble staying awake, the NHTSA recommends pulling over and getting a room for the night, or at least taking a short nap. It is best to prevent drowsy driving prior to getting behind the wheel, by taking the following actions:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and get plenty of rest the night before a long drive;
- Avoid drinking alcohol in any amount when you are on the road;
- Watch the medicines you are taking, as certain types of prescription and over the counter medications list drowsiness as a side effect.
In the event an accident does occur, contact the Wexler Law Firm, P.A. before making any statements to police, your insurer, or to the trucking company. Our experienced West Palm Beach truck accident attorney can help to protect your rights in these situations, so that you can get the compensation you need to recover. Call or contact our office to request a free consultation today.