Fatigue while driving is a shockingly common safety issue

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Car Wrecks

Personal choices are the underlying cause of many motor vehicle collisions. Thousands of people die every year because some people drive while drunk or flagrantly disregard the speed limit. There are laws prohibiting distracted and drunk driving, and people still make the choice to engage in these unsafe practices.

There are no laws technically prohibiting driving while fatigued or drowsy, at least for people in their own vehicles. There are federal Hours of Service rules that govern the commercial transportation industry. These rules help prevent semi-truck crashes caused by fatigued drivers. Unfortunately, no such statutes exist for those driving their own vehicles for personal purposes. People can drive for an entire day or when they haven’t slept well in days without violating the law. Their choices could endanger others.

It is incredibly widespread

Far more drivers than people realize routinely drive when they are too tired to be safe at the wheel. In a study involving self-reported driving information conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a surprising number of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days. Approximately one in 20 drivers admitted that they had fallen asleep at least once while driving in the last month. Some of them had more than one such incident. For every driver who falls asleep at the wheel and admits to doing so, there are many others who experience impairment caused by fatigue.

It acts like intoxication

Fatigue-related impairment is a serious safety concern in part because of how it affects someone’s driving ability. Much like alcohol, exhaustion impairs someone’s decision-making ability. It increases their reaction times and diminishes their ability to focus on driving the way that they should. Drivers do not have to fall asleep at the wheel for their fatigue to cause a crash. They might simply fail to react in time when someone else slams on their brakes or an animal runs out into traffic. Fatigue may explain why someone caused a crash.

An explanation does not absolve someone of personal responsibility if they drive while too tired to be safe. Understanding what factors increase traffic risk can help people avoid personal risk and hold others accountable after a crash caused by fatigue.