Falling asleep at the wheel is a danger that most drivers are familiar with. However, many motorists are unaware of how perilous drowsy driving and fatigued driving can be. If you’re mentally and physically fatigued then your chances of getting into a car accident and suffering a catastrophic injury are greatly increased. In this blog, the Kansas injury lawyers at Patterson Legal Group illustrate the dangers of these forms of impaired driving and explain why they’re so hazardous.
What Is Drowsy Driving and Fatigued Driving?
Fatigued driving is a type of impaired driving that can occur when an automobile operator doesn’t get sufficient sleep. This can reduce a person’s physical and mental capabilities, both of which are essential to safe driving. Driving while drowsy can be hazardous to the driver, their passengers, other motorists, bicycle riders, pedestrians, and more.
Four Ways Insufficient Sleep Can Lower Your Driving Ability
There are many ways that driving while drowsy can lead to car crashes and collisions. The Kansas car wreck attorneys at Patterson Legal Group noticed four that stand out. Drowsy driving and fatigued driving can:
- Reduce Your Reaction Time: there are some situations when a driver has to make split-second decisions in order to avoid an accident. For example, an object may fall out of a vehicle ahead of you or a pedestrian may attempt to cross at an unmarked street, requiring you to swerve quickly in order to avoid a crash. If you don’t get enough sleep then you may react slower than you normally would.
- Lower Your Ability to Monitor Road Conditions: one of the most important facets of safe driving is constantly monitoring the road and checking your mirrors. If your mind and eyes are tired then you may not be able to do so effectively. This can lead to a car wreck that could have been avoided if you were well rested.
- Impair Judgment: when people do not get enough sleep they often feel like their mind is in a haze. This can lead to things as innocent as missing the freeway exit you were supposed to take. Unfortunately, it can also lead to poor decision making that can endanger the lives of passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, and bicycle riders.
- Affect Your Mood: it’s common for sleep deprived people to “not feel like themselves.” What some people don’t know is that it can also change their driving style and behavior. Not getting sufficient sleep can cause some people to drive more aggressively and others to drive sluggishly. Both can lead to automobile collisions and wrecks.
Is Fatigued Driving Really That Dangerous?
Most people have driven while not feeling their best, which is why so many underestimate the hazards of drowsy driving. Here are some statistics that show how perilous it can be.
- The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA-FTS) claims that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually. This is more than three times the number reported to law enforcement.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 684 people died in car crashes in 2021 due to drowsy driving. This is an 8.2% increase from 2020.
- The NHTSA estimates that fatigue-related car wrecks resulting in injury or death cost $109 billion annually.
As you can see, fatigued driving is a significant issue that leads to many deaths and life-changing injuries. While it’s unfortunate that so many people and their families suffer due to drowsy driving car accidents, there is an easy solution to this problem.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving
The good news is that reducing the number of fatigued driving car crashes is simple–get enough sleep. The bad news is that many drivers live busy lives or work multiple jobs, making it difficult to do so.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults 18 to 60 should get 7 hours of sleep or more per day. The agency noted:
- 33% of adults in the United States reported sleeping less than 7 hours a day.
- 40% of U.S. adults reported falling asleep during the day at least once a month.
- An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers aged 18 years or older reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
- Adult drivers who snore or typically sleep six or fewer hours per day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving than drivers who do not snore or usually sleep seven or more hours per day, respectively.
- Drowsy driving was involved in 91,000 car wrecks in 2017, which resulted in 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths.
- In 2020, there were 633 fatigued driving deaths based on police reports. However, these numbers are underestimated, and over 6,000 car crash fatalities each year may involve a drowsy driver.
If you are getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per day then try to make an effort to improve your sleep cycle. If possible, try to sleep at the same time every night. Avoid distractions that can keep your mind active, such as reading in bed; this is especially important if you read on your phone or tablet, which emit blue light that can slow the release of melatonin, which is a hormone that’s crucial for falling asleep.
In addition to improving your physical and mental health, getting sufficient sleep will help you drive optimally, increasing your safety and the safety of others.
Injured in a Drowsy Driving Car Wreck?
If you’ve been injured by a fatigued driver then contact Patterson Legal Group for immediate assistance. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to connect you with top medical professionals and start building a case designed to get you the highest compensation allowable by law. Remember, consultations are free and we work on a “no win, no fee” basis, so you won’t pay any fees unless our lawyers have recovered a settlement on your behalf.
You can reach us by phone at (888) 687-2400 and online through our encrypted contact form or connecting with our LiveChat agents. For over 25 years, Patterson Legal Group has been representing injury victims in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Our experienced trial lawyers have recovered more than $250-million in settlements for thousands of injury victims. To get the compensation that’s rightfully yours and the respectful treatment that you deserve, contact us today.