No doubt everyone has heard and seen warnings about the dangers of driving under the influence. However, fatigued driving can be equally risky to drivers and others on the roads.
The Centers for Disease Control report the incredible statistic that one out of every 25 drivers admits they have fallen asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days. Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigued driving caused 90,000 accidents in 2015, and claimed the lives of nearly 800 people in 2017.
Austin drivers should be aware of the dangers of fatigued driving, the damage it can cause, and their options if they become the victim of a fatigued driver.
Fatigued Driving Is as Dangerous as Drunk Driving
The risk for accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by fatigued driving match those caused by drunk driving. Fatigued drivers are compromised, and therefore are more likely to:
- Exceed the speed limit;
- Ignore traffic warnings;
- Fail to see brake lights and other dangers ahead;
- Drift into other lanes of traffic;
- “Zone out” and forget where they are, or how they got there; and
- Have slower reaction times.
The behaviors of fatigued drivers are like those exhibited by drunk drivers. Furthermore, the drowsier the driver, the worse their driving skills. Fatigued drivers lack the ability to compensate for errors, and so the repercussions of fatigued driving are similar to those caused by drunk driving: severe injuries and even death.
Warning Signs and How to Prevent an Accident
Drivers should know the warning signs of fatigued driving, and take steps to prevent accidents from happening. Signs you may be too tired to drive include:
- Frequent yawning;
- Slow blinking;
- Memory lapses; and
- “Foggy” or sluggish thinking.
Commercial drivers are at higher risk for fatigued driving because they are often required to keep demanding schedules. However, anyone can become a fatigued driver, including people who sleep less than seven hours a night or who suffer from restless sleep caused by common health conditions such as sleep apnea, depression, and anxiety.
Alcohol, drugs, and certain medications—particularly when combined—increase the risk of driver fatigue. Drivers should always read warning labels for any substances they consume, and should be aware of potential chemical effects on their driving.
If you are driving and begin to feel drowsy, the best practice to prevent an accident is to pull over at a safe location and stop your vehicle. If you are traveling with someone else who can safely take the wheel, switch drivers. Otherwise, take a nap until you are capable of driving again. Other tactics like rolling down a window, consuming caffeine, or singing along to a radio are generally not effective, and it is best to be abundantly cautious to avoid the risk of an accident.
Were You in an Accident Caused by a Fatigued Driver?
Fatigued driving contributes to thousands of accidents in Texas every year. If you were injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas in Austin at (512) 851-1004 or online to schedule a free consultation.